Archive for December, 2012

While resting your arm is an important part of the offseason, it is just one of the many pieces to the puzzle. Professional and amateur players alike should have a progression they go through so they are ready at the beginning of their respective season. Wondering aimlessly through the gym for 4 months doing random exercises, reps, and sets is basically lying to yourself that you worked hard this off season. And while work ethic might not have been the issue, there is someone out there who is working just as hard…and smarter.

Since this topic is rather broad and I could write a book on it, let’s break it down and start with the moneymaker: The arm.

I recently decided (within the last 15 minutes) that I hate the term “arm care”. Care is a word that is associated with physical weakness. I’m not going to use a word that goes completely against the goal and mindset I am trying to accomplish. For that reason, I will now refer to it as arm training or strengthening. Creative, right? Go ahead and jump on the bandwagon now. You heard it here first.

In all seriousness, you will never hear me say “arm” and “care” in succession again. Here is a very basic overview of what a pitcher’s offseason should look like for arm strengthening specific work ONLY. I will get to the other parts of the body in the near future.

Professional Pitchers 

Weeks 1-2: Completely off.

Weeks 3-4: General adaptation aka get back into the routine of lifting. Normal upper body exercises

Weeks 5-6: Light manual/weighted/band rotator cuff work, scapular mobility work

Weeks 7-8: Shoulder stabilization (overhead carries, lateral core extensions w/ med ball, o’head oblique extensions, turkish get-ups), wall dribbles

Week 9-10: Overhead med ball throws, arm motion w/ weight 

Somewhere around this time throwing will start back. Schedule the arm strengthening around your throwing. Throwing should be done before the workout or on off days.

Week 11-14: Overhead med ball throws decrease in frequency and weight as throwing increases. Shoulder stability, scapular mobility, arm motion with weight, and rotator cuff continue

Week 15-16: Throwing distance should be increasing, flat grounds start, weighted ball throws from 90/90 position to release,

Week 17-18: Bullpens begin, long toss intensity increases, Overhead med ball throws cut down to once a week, weighted ball throws from power position

Week 19-20: Bullpen intensity increases, weighted ball volume decreases

Week 21-22: Ready for spring training. Bullpens and long toss at 100%. Normal in-season arm maintenance

Final Thoughts

For weighted ball throws, I would stay in the 6-11 oz range. My rule of thumb on weighted throws is decrease weight as range of motion increases. Weighted balls should be thrown into a net, not to another person. I would also not recommend using weighted balls without the instruction and supervision of someone in the strength and conditioning field that knows what they are doing. They could possibly cause injury if misused, or if you are not physically developed enough to use them. It is important to have a solid base of strength before using weighted balls.

This article was meant to serve as an overview of an offseason arm strengthening program. Obviously, there is a lot of detail left out. Hopefully it can serve as a general guide as you shape your offseason program.

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I’m sure we have all stretched our hamstrings before or after a workout by bending at the waist, reaching our hands to the floor, and keeping our legs perfectly straight. While this does provide a stretch for the hamstrings, let’s take a look at some added benefits we could get by tweaking the stretch slightly.

For starters, it only stretches in one plane. Since everyone moves in 3 planes of motion (4 if you count diagonal), it makes more sense to stretch in this manner. Think about running. Only in the 100 meter dash do you run straight. Any other sport involves turning or cutting.

Back and Front Superficial Lines

Also, because the hamstring connects to the tibia (lower leg bone) and the gastrocnemius connects to the femur (thigh bone), the myofascia of the upper and lower leg link when the knee is straightened. This is the reason you cannot stretch as far when your knees are locked out compared to when they are slightly bent. The slight bend separates the fascia of the lower and upper leg, allowing for more movement.

To isolate the hamstring when stretching, it is more effective to have a slight bend in the knee and rotate the leg to simulate a movement in different planes. Below is the stretch Chuck Wolf uses to create a more functional stretch. While the biceps femoris is defined as part of the Lateral Line (semitendinosus and semimembranosus are shown in picture above), it too will be stretched using this procedure.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you. Also, please share any other functional stretches you may use for the hamstrings.

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Christmas with their family and friends. Since you are probably stuck in your house with some less desirable in-laws or extended family, here are some body weight workout ideas that you can knock out.

 

If you are as fortunate as I am to have a 60 lb weighted vest willing to jump on you at any time, I suggest using it.

Here is Charles’ contribution to the post. He also recommends a few games of basketball on a hang-on-the-back-of-a-door goal for good cardio.

 

 

Merry Christmas from the Stovers!

 

No, this article and/or exercise is not a joke. Babymakers may be my favorite ab exercise and is also great for increasing sagittal plane movement in the hips.

I have previously addressed my distain for traditional ab exercises like crunches. Most ab work consists of shortening the muscles and placing strain on the back. Babymakers, on the other hand, work to lengthen the muscles of the rectus abdominis and hip flexors as the hips move into anterior tilt. Because the anterior tilt occurs first, this movement pattern fits with the idea of having an eccentric contraction (lengthening) before an concentric contraction (shortening). Needless to say, hip mobility is also improved while no tension is placed on the lumbar spine as it is during a normal crunch. Shoulder stability is also added if you add movement like I did in the video.

The burn generated by crunches is still there so if that’s something you can’t live without, so no worries. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Over the weekend, Rick Majerus, college basketball coach, passed away. Coach Majerus had ongoing heart problems and died of heart failure at the age of 64. He had been overweight for many years, and unfortunately it finally caught up to him.

Image

This served as a reminder to me what terrible shape our nation is in as a whole. For some reason we are worried about a lot less important things than our health. Since the hot topic seems to be the economic state of our nation, let’s look at our health from a purely financial point of view.

USA Today found that obesity costs an extra $4,879 for women and  $2,646 for men. When you factor in earlier loss of life, it goes up to $8,365 for women and $6,518 for men. I actually think this is low because it did not mention anything about increased health insurance, which factors in BMI*, and extra medical bills that could possibly occur from general decreased health due to the extra weight.

An article by CNN in 2010 stated that a research study “found that indirect and direct costs of obesity is as high as $147 billion annually” based on 2006. I guaranSHEED that number has increased considerably.

Now imagine investing more in your health now to prevent future expenses that would occur with weight related problems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out investing $1000 a year now to prevent $2000-4000 in expenses later is a smart thing to do. You also can’t put a price tag on the increased quality of life and added years to spend with your family.

I know what you are thinking, you are suggesting people to spend more on exercising because that results in people like me having more work. While this is true, it is hardly my motive. I find it sad to see the direction our country is going. I think it is terrible that 33% of children are overweight or obese and are set up for a life battling a weight problem because of the lifestyle that has become the norm in America.

If you don’t know the steps to take or just need accountability, spend the money to get the proper guidance. It will be the smartest investment you have ever made.

*BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is used to classify a person based on their height and weight. Average is defined as 18.5-24.9. Overweight is 25-29.9. Obese is 30 and above. It does not take into account muscle mass so it can be misleading.

One of the questions I get a lot from athletes of all levels (usually males) is what do I need to do to gain weight?

SkinnyKid

The solution I have found is groundbreaking.

EAT MORE!

It’s quite simple: you gain weight by consuming more calories than you burn. That is why our nation is overweight. No exercise + terrible eating habits = fat gain. I gained 3 lbs on Thanksgiving because I literally sat around and ate all day until I was uncomfortable. If you are an athlete and have trouble gaining weight or keeping weight on, you are more than likely consuming less calories than you burn every day. For me personally, I need around 3200-3500 calories on my lifting days. Michael Phelps was said to eat 10,000 calories a day while he trained. This is slightly higher than the recommended 2000 calories for the general public.

It is important to follow the guidelines I laid out for you in the Nutrition section, along with eating foods with high nutritional value as opposed to just piling on the fast food. Not all calories are created equal, and the calories from healthier foods will provide more nutrients to your body than something like Romen Noodle.

Nate Green did an insane 34 day weight manipulation on himself. While I would never recommend an athlete, or anyone else, doing this to themselves, take a look at his diet over the first 28 days he was trying to gain weight.

BREAKFAST

  • 2 frozen bananas, blended until creamy
  • Small amount of almond milk
  • 3 scoops of casein protein
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate
  • 4 pieces of whole grain bread
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp jam

SUPER SHAKE

  • 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • handful of frozen raspberries
  • handful of frozen blueberries

LUNCH

  • 1.5 pounds of lean meat
  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Udo’s oil

DINNER

  • 1 pound lean meat
  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut
  • 2 pieces of fruit
  • 1 tbsp fish oil

That is a TON of food. I’m not suggesting you follow this exact diet or any others, I just think it is helpful to see what I mean when I say eat more. This is definitely more.

If you want to look like our friend at the top, eat like him. If you want to put on some weight, get out your stretchy pants and go to work.