Home Posts tagged "Exercise of the Week"

Exercise of the Week: 1-Arm, 1-Leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Florida coach, Josh Kuester.

In some cases, baseball players (especially pitchers) are told that they are fragile, and consequently a heavy dose of “corrective exercises” are handed out. But throwing a baseball is the fastest motion in sports, and hitting a baseball might be the most challenging task in all of sports. Baseball players are not merely finesse athletes; they are power athletes. I love integrating exercises that challenge both of these ends of the spectrum to some degree, and the 1-arm, 1-leg Kettlebell Swing with Rack Assistance is a perfect example.

Here are four reasons why I like this exercises with some of my thoughts as to how I might implement this variation with athletes:

1. Beauty in Simplicity

For coaches who train large groups of athletes with limited time (and/or resources), you understand that there is beauty in simplicity. Additionally, for baseball players, I think simplicity in the weight room is really important because their sport is highly complex. For a long time, CSP has been implementing medicine ball training as a staple for power development. There are numerous benefits to medicine ball training: plane specific power, fascial system development, lower and upper half connection. However, one element that might be overlooked is that throwing a medicine ball is relatively simple, and simple exercises have higher intent. The learning curve on the 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance is very low and allows athletes to move a moderate load on a single leg with high intensity.

2. Unilateral and Sagittal Power Development

While the 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance is more of a sagittal plane exercise, it is a unilateral variation and baseball is a unilateral sport. Additionally, in the early to mid-off season, we are not aggressively going after large volumes of transverse plane power development. In many cases, we are re-establishing sagittal plane mechanics before progressing to more frontal and transverse plane power exercises later in the off-season.

3. Contrast Training

Contrast training is something that we use at CSP from time to time. In short, contrast training is using a variety of exercises (anywhere from 2-4) that hit different points on the force/velocity curve to potentiate the neuromuscular system to produce more force. I like this variation because it fits in the rather large gap between absolute strength and absolute speed on the force-velocity cure.

This variation will fit nicely in a contrast training cluster of:

1. Safety Squat Bar Split-Squat from Pins
2. 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance
3. Split-Squat Cycle Jumps
4. Band-Assisted Split Squat Cycle Jumps


1. 1-Arm, 1-Leg KB Swing with Rack Assistance
2. 1-Leg Broad Jump with 2-Leg Stick

4. Heel Connection

Pitchers and hitters alike often discuss the concept of “heel connection” and wanting to feel the ground. Staying connected in the back hip allows for better sequencing of hip and thoracic rotation when throwing/hitting, which results in more efficient transfer of energy from back-side to front-side. If an athlete gets into the ball of their foot too early, it can influence the magnitude and direction in which they apply force. I love this variation because it forces the athlete to feel the ground, and because the load is moderate, it forces the athlete to have heel reference; otherwise they will lose balance.

Final Thoughts on Performing and Implementing this Exercise

1. This is an exercise that I would only use for an athlete with a moderate to high training
2. Pick a weight that you would use for a single leg RDL.
3. The added stability of holding the rack allows for high intent/speed with a moderate load.
4. The stabilizing hand should be just above hip height.
5. I prefer to have athletes perform this barefoot or in minimalist sneakers so that the athlete can feel the ground.

About the Author

Josh Kuester serves as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at CSP-FL. He began his collegiate career playing baseball at DIII UW-Whitewater where he played middle infield. After an injury plagued freshman and sophomore season, he ended up pursuing his bachelors from the University of Wisconsin and his masters from UW-Stevens Point. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and a board-certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). He has been a strength coach at the high school and collegiate level. In addition, he has coached various ages of travel baseball for Impact Sports Academy, a club baseball program out of De Pere, Wisconsin. From the fall of 2020 to the spring 2021 he served as a Sports Medicine intern at Northwestern University where he primarily worked with the football team. You can follow him on Instagram at @JoshKuester.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Read more

The Best of 2020: Strength and Conditioning Videos

With my last post, I kicked off the "Best of 2020" series with my top articles of the year. Today, we'll highlight the top five videos of the year.

1. Birddog Rows -This is one of our favorite horizontal pulling variations. Check out this great write-up on the drill from CSP-FL Director of Performance, Tim Geromini.

2. Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill - This drill comes to you courtesy of Cressey Sports Performance coach Derek Kambour. The Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Windmill is an awesome full-body exercise that delivers several important benefits. Learn more in this write-up.

3. Adductor Slides - This is an awesome exercise for adductors that are both long and strong. Check out this full write-up to learn more about how we use this drill.

4. Bottoms-up Kettlebell Arm Bar - The Kettlebell Arm Bar is an awesome exercise that delivers several important benefits, but we've admittedly taken some time to warm up to it. Learn more here.

5. Bowler Squat to J-Band Y - This exercise is the brainchild of physical therapist Eric Schoenberg, who works out of Cressey Sports Performance – Florida. When I first saw him implementing it with a patient, I immediately thought, “How have I never thought of it?” It actually combines two of my favorite exercises: the bowler squat and the J-Band Y. In doing so, we get an awesome arm care exercise that integrates single-leg balance and hip mobility. Learn more here.

I'll be back soon with the top guest posts of 2020!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Read more

Exercise(s) of the Week: Making the Most of Rotational Rows

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach Andrew Lysy.

The 1-arm Cable Rotational Row is a versatile exercise for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s a beneficial rowing variation for baseball players who have flat thoracic spines and struggle to get the scapula rotating around the rib cage. This rowing variation focuses more on the protraction and/or upward rotation of the scapula compared to retraction of the scapula, which is what you’d typically see in a conventional rowing exercise.

Another benefit of the rotational row is the ability to teach proper front hip loading and proper hip extension throughout the same exercise. Where you angle the cable is going to determine how much you load your front hip and how much scapular upward rotation you’ll be getting.

There are three main 1-arm Rotational Cable Row exercise variations that we use at CSP regularly:

1. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Eye Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular upward rotation and less on hip flexion.

2. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Chest Height: This variation is going to work on more scapular protraction and hip flexion than the eye height setting.

3. 1-arm Rotational Cable Row – Lowest Setting: This variation is going to focus more on hip flexion than the rest of the variations, because the cable pulls you into your front hip.

These variations are typically programmed in the beginning of a training session with power as the main focus. I’d suggest easing into the exercise at first, mastering the form before moving the weight faster. We typically program these exercises for 3-4 sets of 4-6 reps.

About the Author

Andrew Lysy was a right-handed pitcher at Rowan University, where he graduated with a degree in Health and Exercise Science. He was a former Cressey Sports Performance – Florida intern and is now a full time Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Sports Performance – Massachusetts. He can be found on Instagram at @ALysyStrength.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Baseball Newsletter and Receive Instant Access to a 47-minute Presentation from Eric Cressey on Individualizing the Management of Overhead Athletes!

Read more

Exercise of the Week: Side Bridge with Top Leg March

This go-round of the Exercise of the Week comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach, Cole Russo. Before we get to it, though, just a quick heads-up that I'm running a weekend flash sale on my Understanding and Coaching the Anterior Core presentation. You can get 30% off with the coupon code CORE30 at checkout; just head HERE to get more information and purchase.

Key Coaching Points

1. This could simply be a progression from the traditional side bridge, in that there is less stability and more stress on the lateral core.

2. In terms of pitching, sometimes lateral flexion of the trunk will be a compensation for abduction of the pelvis to create force and generate momentum from the stretch. Similarly, a traditional side bridge can accomplish the same thing. This is more specific to the joint actions of pitching because the lead leg moves to hip flexion (just like the top leg in the exercise). CSP pitching coordinator shared an awesome post on this a while back:

View this post on Instagram

1️⃣: A hip load mistake I see a lot with pitchers, as they start their descent down the slope of the mound. 2️⃣: Visual on pelvis-on-femur abduction. 30 degrees of P-O-F abduction is "normal" and pitchers usually couple this with lateral flexion of the spine as they try to load their back hip. A little bit of lateral flexion isn't bad, but you have to leave room in your hip socket for force production through abduction. This pic was taken from a new book I'm reading called Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System by Donald Neumann. ⚾️Video by the one and only @nancy_newell, and video bombs from Franklin J. (@frankduffyfitness) #cspfamily #csppitching #elitepitchingdevelopment #backhip #mlb #minorleaguebaseball #collegebaseball #highschoolbaseball #baseballcoach #pitching #pitchingcoach #pitchingdrills

A post shared by Christian Wonders - EPD (@csp_pitching) on

3. During the gait cycle, it is common to see what is referred to as the Trendelenburg Gait. This happens when the hip abductors are weak and the pelvis falls downward relative to the femur; usually accompanied with another compensation of lateral trunk tilt. The exercise emphasizes hip abduction, anti-lateral flexion, and hip flexion against gravitational forces that relate to the same weaknesses associated with the Trendelenburg Gait.

4. The positions of this exercise resemble the “figure-4” position that is assumed during the sprint cycle. When sprinting, it is necessary for the trunk to transfer force and stabilize the body against multiplanar forces so that the center of mass can directed linearly. Training the trunk to resist lateral flexion can help with this. Training the trunk to resist lateral flexion in biomechanically relevant joint positions can make you Usain Bolt. Core exercises eventually need to be progressed to something more dynamic. Once motor control and appropriate stability are demonstrated, progression to a quicker leg action action will make it more of a reactive stimulus for the nervous system.

5. Never underestimate the value of variety! Subtle additions like this to exercises that have already been rehearsed are a novel stimulus for the brain and can really enrich the motor learning process. The right amount of struggle is a good thing. Consistent patterns with minimal struggles and errors means there is a need for a new stimulus.

6. We'll usually program this as a 10-15 second isometric hold in the first few weeks of doing this exercise, and then progress to marching in subsequent weeks. It'll be sets of 8 per side in those who are more highly trained. This can be done as a warm-up, or used for multiple sets later in the training session.

About the Author

Cole Russo is a strength and conditioning coach at CSP-MA. You can follow him on Instagram at @SwoleThomas.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Read more

Exercise of the Week: Landmine Squat to 1-arm Press

Anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time knows that I'm a big fan of landmine presses for a number of reasons:

1. As a "free scapula" pressing exercise, they're an effective way to train scapular upward rotation.

2. They're much more shoulder friendly than overhead presses.

3. They provide a great core stability challenge.

4. You can implement a lot of variety in terms of stance (tall/half-kneeling, standing, split-stance, rotational, etc) and lower body contributions. This week's feature is a great highlight in this regard:

This drill fits well as a first exercise on a full body day and pairs well with horizontal or vertical pulling. I really like it late in the offseason when we're trying to keep sessions a bit shorter and get extra bang for our training buck. I'd do sets of 3-5 reps per side.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Read more

Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling Cable Lift w/Flexion-Rotation Hold

The half-kneeling cable lift w/flexion-rotation hold is a new variation on an old drill, and we've been implementing it quite a bit with guys of late. It's a creation of CSP-FL co-founder and pitching coordinator Brian Kaplan.

Like all cable chops and lifts, we're training anti-rotation core stability. However, in this variation of the cable lift, the athlete drives thoracic (upper back) rotation and flexion, two crucial pieces of getting to an ideal ball release position during throwing, or completing a swing during hitting.

Simultaneously, the athlete should be actively pulling into the front hip (adduction and internal rotation) to simulate the same front hip force acceptance you get during the pitching delivery and hitting motion.

Of course, there are many functional performance benefits that extend far beyond the baseball world. This drill will benefit anyone who competes in extension-rotation sports, not to mention your casual weekend golfer. In short, it trains core stability and thoracic mobility, so it has almost universal application.

We'll usually program this for 6-8 reps per side. On each rep, we have a 2-3 second hold at the lockout position with a full exhale. You should really feel the core turn on - and in some cases, you'll even see athletes get a little cramp in the abs.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Read more

Have You Tried the 1-leg Dumbbell Pullover?

The 1-leg dumbbell pullover is a nice variation on a classic. It’ll add a rotary stability challenge to what is normally considered an upper body and anterior core drill. I’m using this variation a bit more this time of year (with throwing volume and intensity ramping up), as you can get a good training effect with less external loading.

We'll usually program this for 3-4 sets of 4-5 reps per side. It pairs well with exercises that aren't concrete push or pull exercises: Turkish Get-ups, kettlebell windmills, and bottoms-up kettlebell carries. I even like pairing it up with TRX Ys, as it's effectively the opposite pattern. Enjoy!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Read more

Exercise of the Week: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge to 1-leg RDL

If there's one thing I've learned to love in working with older athletes and lifters, it's "joint-friendly" exercises. Obviously, these drills lower the injury risk, but taking it a step further, these are options that allow us to create a great training effect with minimal loading. This exercise of the week (from The High Performance Handbook video library) is a perfect example - and it also affords some great benefits in terms of building mobility.

Keep in mind that this isn't a "beginner exercise." Rather, you need to be proficient with both the reverse lunge and 1-leg RDL components before you attempt to combine them.

My apologies in advance for how sore this will make you!

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

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