Home Posts tagged "in-season training"

The Best of 2018: Guest Posts

 I've already highlighted the top articles and videos I put out at EricCressey.com in 2018, so now it's time for the top guest posts of the year. Here goes…

1. The Issue With Most Powerlifting-Specific Programs - Former Cressey Sports Performance intern Jamie Smith shares some insights to help you plug up the holes in traditional powerlifting programs.

2. Going Out With a Bang: Creating and Implementing Workout Finishers - CSP-FL coach Jason Jabour delivered some great insights on how to cap off a great training session with an appropriate finisher.

3. 7 In-Season Training Strategies to Maintain Strength - CSP-MA Director of Performance John O'Neil covers some strategies for maintaining strength during the competitive season.

4. The Truth About Dodgeball and Tag - Lee Taft is a tremendous coach on the speed and agility front, and in today's post, he touches on a controversial topic: the elimination of dodgeball and tag from youth physical developmental programs.

5. What Research Can Tell Us About "Super Champion" Athletes - Tennis training expert Matt Kuzdub delves into commonalities of success among the most high achieving athletes - and how they differentiate themselves from those who don't quite "make it."

I'll be back soon with the top strength and conditioning features from 2018.

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7 Ways to Maintain Strength During Baseball Season

Today's guest post comes from Cressey Sports Performance - Massachusetts coach, John O'Neil.

With the off-season winding down, many players are wondering how to maintain the strength they put on during the off-season. Here are seven simple but effective ways to maintain strength during the baseball season.

1. Maintain Body Weight.

Here at CSP, we spend all off-season putting 10, 15, and sometimes 20 pounds on athletes to help increase their ability to produce force. Sports are won by those who exhibit greater Rates of Force Development (RFD), and, the limiting factor for many youth athletes is the ability to produce gross amounts of force. A larger person has a better chance of producing force. If your mass is decreasing throughout a season, maintaining the same levels of force production will be difficult.

Make sure to consistently weigh yourself during the season. If you tend to be a guy who struggles to keep weight on, make sure to bring food with you to the field and stay properly hydrated. Sneaking in extra calories pre- and post-practice, in addition to occasionally having something to eat mid-game, could go a long way in maintaining body weight. Be sure to read EC’s article, 8 Tips for Not Wasting Away During Summer Baseball, too, if you haven’t already.

2. Consolidate Stressors.

This is a fancy way of saying to make your harder days focused on building yourself up and letting your easy days be focused on recovery. If you’re at the field six days a week, a seventh day of rest might be exactly what you need, instead of hitting the gym on day seven. Try and sneak in weight room sessions on the same days that you have extensive on-field work. All stress is stress. For example, a position player who is on his feet for 2+ hours a day six days in a row probably needs the seventh day to rest and would get a much greater benefit from stacking lifting weights on top of a few of the harder days during the week. Know that if you’re not taking care of your recovery modalities (through sleep, nutrition, lifestyle), your body’s ability to absorb and adapt to stress will be diminished.

3. Appreciate Micro-Sessions.

While a majority of off-season lifts will take 60-90 minutes, this doesn’t mean that in-season lifts need to as well. There’s nothing inherently wrong with hitting 3-4 20-40 minute sessions throughout the week. This ensures that the quality of work will be higher; in fact, the quantity of work for four 30-minute sessions might also be greater than just trying to blow it out on the gym the one day you have a dedicated 90 minutes. A typical 30-minute session could be as follows:

A1) Deadlift or Squat, 3x3
A2) Arm Care, 3 sets
A3) Core, 3 sets
B1) Single-Leg Exercise, 3 sets
B2) Upper-Body Push, 3 sets
B3) Upper-Body Pull, 3 sets

By switching to a tri-set format and making the session full-body, you can sneak in extra work and still finish the above session in under 40 minutes. In fact, even getting in two sets of all of the above multiple times a week will probably have greater carryover than going several days between sessions just so you can wait to get in the typical 18-24 set range that we hit during a mid-offseason session.

4. Understand the Difference Between Soreness and Progress.

Not all strength training sessions need to be tough or need to make you sore to create progress. In fact, if you’re constantly sore during the season, you’ll be limited in your ability to output the highest levels of power that you can achieve. Simple ways to avoid soreness from in-season lifts include not including brand-new exercises – the novelty of a new exercise will create more soreness than one you’ve recently done - and avoiding high amounts of eccentric stress. For example, a Bulgarian split-squat is a great exercise, but a step-up might be a better in-season choice because it provides far less eccentric stress.

Not all lifts need to be heavy grinders, either; in fact, maximal strength is the training quality that will have the longest carryover in terms of the amount of times you need to hit it just to maintain it. Issurin’s Residual Training Qualities chart claims that Max Strength will stick around for periods up to 30 +/- 5 days, which means you could theoretically hit Max Strength qualities 1-2x/month and maintain them. A simple action item to scale this would be to take your main lift and hit it within different zones on the force-velocity curve in different weeks: In week 1, go heavy (near absolute strength), in week 2, work on strength-speed, in week 3, work on speed-strength, and just rotate it. The weight room shouldn’t beat up your ability to play the sport during the season.

5. Don’t Waste Valuable Energy on Needless Extra Reps.

To add on the point I outlined in #2, your body doesn’t know the difference between fatigue created on the field and fatigue created in the weight room. If you’re a position player, know that the extra 100 swings you decided to take after practice are going to hinder your body’s ability to adapt to stress you want to add to it in the weight room. When it comes to extra on-field work, pick and choose your battles. We know that fatigue is the enemy of motor learning, so if you are sacrificing quality of on-field technique work because you feel like you need extra reps, you might be just getting worse at your sport. Keep the quality of all swings, throws, and fielding reps high and near the speed of sport if you want them to have carryover. If only the amount of reps that you NEED to take are applied, then you’ll have much more time and energy to get some strength work in.

6. Choose the Right Conditioning Modalities.

We know that baseball is an alactic-aerobic sport. The average work:rest ratio amongst pitchers is close to 1:20 (delivery takes less than 2 seconds, average MLB time in-between pitches last season was 23.8 seconds). The average work:rest ratio for position players is generally far greater given the lack of action they’ll take part in compared to the pitcher. If you’re training for baseball by applying long-distance running, you’re essentially training to be less efficient at the time demands the sport requires. This topic is covered widely in previous articles (here and here) on this site, but it is still amazingly prevalent within the baseball community. To layer on top of the points I made above, you’ve sapped the adaptive capacity of the individual for something that has nothing to do with getting better at the sport. In short, keep your speed work fast and keep your rest time focused on recovery.

7. Maintain Needed Mobility.

While this one may not directly relate to strength as much as a few of the others, it’s important to understand that if you are losing mobility you need to perform your sport at a high level, you now have to choose between spending time gaining that mobility back or maintaining strength. Force, power, RFD, speed, and all the other physiological qualities for which we train are only as good as your ability to use them on field. Simple strategies such as having a daily mobility routine as part of pre- and post-practice can save valuable time that you can use towards increasing the physiological qualities that I mentioned above in the weight room. Five minutes before and after every on-field session can save valuable time later in the season when overuse-related mobility concerns start to arise, not to mention, they’ll keep you healthy and on the field throughout the season.

Wrap-up

On March 4, 2018, Christian Wonders and I (John) will be delivering a one-day seminar, “In-Season Training Strategies for Baseball.” This event, which will take place at our Hudson, MA location, is a great chance for baseball coaches to learn about the training process and how communication between a strength coach and a sport coach can help take performance to the next level. Both Christian and John have experience working as on-field baseball coaches and as strength coaches, and they’ve used their ability to speak a common language with great success. It’s also a valuable event for strength and conditioning professionals to learn more about integrating performance training and skill development. For more information, click HERE.

About the Author

John O'Neil (@ONeilStrength) is a coach at Cressey Sports Performance-MA. You can contact him by email at joh.oneil@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram

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Seminar Announcement: In-Season Training Strategies for Baseball

We're excited to announce that on March 4, 2018, Christian Wonders and John O’Neil will be delivering a one-day seminar, “In-Season Training Strategies for Baseball.” This event, which will take place at our Hudson, MA location, is a great chance for baseball coaches to learn about the training process and how communication between a strength coach and a sport coach can help take performance to the next level. Both Christian and John have experience working as on-field baseball coaches and as strength coaches, and they’ve used their ability to speak a common language with great success. It’s also a valuable event for strength and conditioning professionals to learn more about integrating performance training and skill development.

This one-day seminar combines pitching and training information and how to optimally blend the two during the in-season period. The goal is to preserve – and build upon – the athleticism that was built in the off-season while ensuring that players are fresh for the quality work that must take place in practices and games.

Split into both a lecture and practical format, the event will provide attendees with detailed information on both the pitching and training ends, including multiple practical portions that will cover drill work, a bullpen, and technique demonstrations on valuable exercises geared with the idea of not only healthy but also increasing performance.

Additionally, Christian and John will cover how to structure in-between start routines built around both training and throwing, and how such a routine could be individualized and changed throughout the season. Furthermore, they'll touch upon the pitfalls of many in-season training programs and how to better structure yours.

Agenda:

9:00-10:15am: Training Fundamentals: What The Baseball Coach Needs to Know about Performance Training.  In this presentation, we cover an overview of relevant physiology, stress application, training specificity and why certain age-long practices in the baseball community don’t correlate with an improvement in on-field performance. (John- Lecture)

10:15-10:30am: Break

10:30-11:45am: Overview of Elite Pitching Development Philosophies: this presentation includes a breakdown of how Christian teaches mechanics and how he uses his knowledge learned from the gym to his advantage. (Christian - Lecture)

11:45am-12:30pm: Lunch

12:30-1:15pm: Designing an In-Season Training Routine: learn how to structure everything from pre-game warm-ups to team lifts on a daily, weekly, and season-long basis. This talk will cover specific markers the baseball coach can identify to help modify a team program to fit individual needs. (John - Lecture)

1:15-2:00pm: Designing an In-Season Throwing Routine: we'll break down the components of catch play, long toss, and throwing bullpens - both for starters and relievers. (Christian - Lecture)

2:00-2:15pm: Break

2:15-3:00pm: Training Power and Speed Discussion: this presentation includes a breakout of a sprint mechanics and how to coach them. This practical component will also cover a sample team pre-game warm-up. (John - Practical)

3:00-3:45pm: Live Throwing Demonstrations: this segment includes how to coach specific drill work and optimize your pitchers’ bullpen work. (Christian - Practical)

4:00-5:00pm: Q&A

Date/Location:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Cressey Sports Performance
577 Main St.
Suite 310
Hudson, MA 01749

Registration Fee:

$99.99

Note: we’ll be capping the number of participants to ensure that there is a lot of presenter/attendee interaction – particularly during the hands-on workshop portion – so be sure to register early.

Click here to register using our 100% secure server!

About the Presenters:

John O'Neil (@ONeilStrength) is a Strength & Conditioning Coach at Cressey Sports Performance. John not only has experience training baseball players, but has also coached high school baseball and interned in player development with the Baltimore Orioles. He graduated from Dickinson College with a B.S. in Mathematics. You can contact him by email at joh.oneil@gmail.com.

Christian Wonders (@CSP_Pitching) is the pitching coordinator as Cressey Sports Performance-MA and the owner of Elite Pitching Development. Christian previously worked as a strength coach at CSP-Florida, where he also coached high school baseball. He graduated from Georgia College and State University with a B.S. in Exercise Science. You can contact him at elitepitchingdevelopment@gmail.com.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/13/12

Here's a little of recommended reading for the week: Deloading on 5x5 Weight Training Programs - The 5x5 sets and reps approach is a very popular one, but most people ignore a very crucial factor that influences how successful this approach is: deloading.  Learn more from this older post of mine. Vitamin D, Calcium, and Dairy Intakes and Stress Fractures Among Female Adolescents - It always seems like calcium gets a lot more love than vitamin D when it comes to bone health, but here's a recently published prospective cohort study that shows that vitamin D is most likely the bigger player in preventing stress fractures.  Just one more reason to supplement! The Myth of In-Season "Maintenance" Training - I thought Ben Bruno did a good job relaying an important message about the value of in-season training, particularly among youth athletes.  The overwhelming majority of kids can continue to get strong with good training in-season, so they need to view in-season strength and conditioning as developmental.  Otherwise, it becomes one step forward (off-season), one step backward (in-season) for an entire high school career. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Strength Training Programs: How Many Sets and Reps? – Part 2

In today's post, we've got the second half of a Q&A response regarding how to determine the optimal number of sets and reps for strength exercises.  In case you missed the first installment, be sure to check out Strength Training Programs: How Many Sets and Reps - Part 1.  We pick up with factors 7-13:

7. Whether You’re Trying to Correct Muscle Imbalances – In Part 1 (Bulletpoint 4) of my five-part Correcting Bad Posture series, I talked about how I like to use a 2:1 pull-to-pushing ratio with those who have significant upper body muscle imbalances.  In addition to upping the sets, you can also use higher rep schemes.  So, something like this would be an easy way to accumulate more volume:

A1) Chest-Supported Row - Neutral Grip: 4x8
A2) Low Incline Barbell Press: 3x6

Effectively, you're not only getting more total sets in favor of "postural balance;" you're also getting more reps per set.

8. How Neurally Efficient a Client/Athlete Is – Some athletes – especially those who tend to be of a more slow-twitch muscle fiber predominance – always seem to need to get more sets in on their strength exercises.  This is impacted in a lot of them by a previous history of endurance training – whether it’s high school soccer or a dedicated running career – that made them less efficient at tapping in to high threshold motor units.  The same holds true for female athletes; they always seem to need a little extra volume on strength exercises; it’s almost as if they can’t ramp up to a max as quickly as men.  I don't think you necessarily need to increase reps per set, but definitely ought to consider adding an additional set or two.

9. Whether You’re Trying to Achieve a Metabolic Training Benefit – Some programs use a concept called metabolic resistance training to improve cardiovascular conditioning and increase energy expenditure so that you can burn fat faster. Generally, in programs like these, you’ll need more sets and higher reps to elicit this training effect.

10. Whether You’re Dealing with a Post-Injury Client – In these folks, you want to keep the sets and reps down and gradually ease them back in to things.  So, while a “normal” client might be fluctuating up and down to impose and decrease training stress, respectively, an post-injury client would be gradually increasing the sets and reps to match his/her capacity for loading at a particular time.

That said, you have to be cognizant of giving them sufficient volume to maintain a training effect and keep them from going insane.  So, using the example of someone with shoulder pain, you might have to cut back on pressing movements, but you can really bump up the volume on horizontal pulling sets and reps.

11. What Else You're Doing - The base mesocycle of the Smolov Squat Program goes like this:

Monday: 4x9
Wednesday: 5x7
Friday: 7x5
Saturday: 10x3

Sure, this is a ton of work (and very specific work at that), but quite a few lifters have used it with excellent success.  You know what, though?  Try adding a lot of extra sets and reps for "other stuff" and you'll fail...miserably.  You can't specialize on everything all at once.  If sets and reps go up in one facet of your strength and conditioning program, they have to come down somewhere else.

12. Whether Soreness is of Concern - With our in-season athletes, we want to avoid soreness at all costs.  The easiest way to do this is to avoid changing strength exercises, but this isn't really feasible, as most athletes will get sick and tired of doing the same thing over and over again all season.  So, we need to be careful about strategically substituting new strength exercises during in-season training.  One way to make it go smoothly is to simply keep the sets and reps down in the first round through a new training program.  Let's say that we were doing front squats in-season.  We'd probably go something like this:

Week 1: 1x3 reps
Week 2: 3x3 reps
Week 3: 3x3 reps
Week 4: 2x3 reps (deload)

This leads me to my final point...

13. Whether or Not an Athlete is In-Season - If an athlete is in-season, less is more.  I prefer to have our athletes leave the gym feeling refreshed after their in-season training sessions - so they might be completely finished with a lift after only 8-10 sets of strength exercises in session.  You can get in more sets and reps during the off-season.

That wraps up the primary considerations that come to mind for determining the sets and reps in a strength training program.  Of course, there are many more to consider.  Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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