Archive for May, 2013

Here’s another of my articles that was published to Stack today:

http://www.stack.com/2013/05/29/baseball-lifts/

baseball fielder

Here’s my latest article for Stack.com, 3 Barbell/Dumbbell Complexes for Strength and Maximal Fat Burn.

 

trap bar deadlift

One problem that we ran into a lot last offseason at Next Level Sports Performance was that we had a lot of athletes in the gym, and not enough equipment for everybody to use. This year, thankfully, we’ll be expanding and buying more equipment/plates/dumbbells, so this hopefully won’t be an issue anymore. However, last year we had to do a lot of improvising due to limited equipment. For starters, our dumbbells only went up to 50 pounds, and we only had 2 of each. We had four 45-lb plates, and 2 each of 35s, 25s, 10s, 5s, and 2.5s. With up to 6 athletes in the gym at a time, this quickly became a problem.

The majority of the time I spent writing programs was dedicated to figuring out how to best utilize our resources, while making sure everyone got the work that they needed. I’d say out of every hour I spent programming, 40 minutes of it was dedicated to figuring out creative ways to make use of what we had, without shortchanging anybody.

If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t have access to the gym equipment you normally use, you can use these methods to still get a good workout in. Or, if you’re looking to add some variety to your workouts, you can substitute these exercises into your current program.

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One of the 13-year-olds I train came in early to throw with his dad before training last week, and I came over to watch a few throws. Whenever I watch one of my students hit or throw I always try to come up with one thing they’re doing well, and one thing they’re doing poorly that they need to work on. In this case, the thing I noticed about Tommy’s throwing motion was a lack of hip/shoulder separation. I’ve talked about the importance of hip/shoulder separation and the stretch shortening cycle before in this article on my site, and this article on Stack.com. If you haven’t read those articles, give them a look to understand why hip/shoulder separation is so imperative to pitching velocity. Basically, we want the shoulders to stay closed while the hips open up, which pre-stretches the muscles across the front of the body, causing a more powerful contraction in those muscles, which makes you throw harder.

That said, one of the most common problems I see in young throwers is that their glove side will open too early (known as “flying out” or “flying open”), which eliminates any chance for hip/shoulder separation. (more…)

I don’t technically train the lifter in these videos, but he helps me out a lot by taking videos and pictures for my articles, so I return the favor by putting together programs for him and coaching him on the lifts. He’s 5 months removed from major knee surgery, trying to join the Marines, and looking to get bigger and stronger. For these reasons, one of the lifts he’s been doing a lot of is the deadlift. I can’t think of many other exercises that will build overall strength quite like deadlifts will, and building glute and hip strength is a necessity for people coming back from knee surgery. Deadlifts will also help pack on muscle like nobody’s business. In the past month while following the program I made for him, his body weight has gone from 165 to 180 lbs; not a small increase by any means.

I posted a video of him deadlifting a few weeks ago, and while watching it I noticed that his lower back tension was lacking. Somehow I missed this while actually videoing the exercise, probably because I was looking at a tiny camera screen while doing so. At any rate, we made a small adjustment to his deadlifts today and his form is now much better as a result.

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Having a good vertical jump can be a huge asset for any athlete, regardless of sport. Even if your sport doesn’t involve much jumping, improving your vertical jump has a carryover effect to running speed and overall explosiveness. For football, basketball, and volleyball players, the vertical jump is also one of the first “measurables” that scouts and college coaches look at when evaluating talent, so not only will the ability to jump high help you succeed in your sport, it will make you more valuable to the people that decide who gets to play on their teams.

You have to impress the guys carrying stopwatches if you want to play at the next level

You have to impress the guys carrying stopwatches if you want to play at the next level

Given the importance of having a good vertical jump, you’d think that more trainers would know how to put together a program to improve one’s vert. However, this is not really the case. (more…)

First, a little background information:

Balance is one of the most important things when it comes to designing a sound strength and conditioning program. For example, if a program includes 3 pressing exercises, it should also include 3 pulling exercises to maintain strength balance across the body. If somebody performs a ton of bench pressing without any rowing-type exercises, the mucles in the chest will become bigger and stronger, but the muscles in the back will not. Over time, this discrepancy in strength between the chest and back will lead to, at best, poor posture and, at worst, an injury. Since nobody wants to be injured, it’s typically a good idea to make sure that you try to balance movements in your strength and conditioning program.

This concept isn’t confined to pushing and pulling, however. Every movement at every joint should -in theory- be balanced. This, of course, is assuming that no imbalances exist to begin with. If somebody does have an existing strength imbalance, or they play a sport that requires repetitive movement (e.g. throwing), they should adjust their program to account for these issues.

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If you train with me, or you are a regular visitor to this site, you already know that I talk a lot about the importance of hip extension during sprinting. Powerful extension of the hip is what propels runners forward, so my athletes spend a lot of time developing their glutes, which control hip extension. However, one important aspect of our training that I haven’t talked much about yet is hamstring strength. If your hamstring strength isn’t up to snuff, all the glute strength in the world won’t help you run fast.

When sprinting, your goal should be to put as much force into the ground as possible to move forward as quickly as possible. This action is driven by hip extension, but in order for the force generated by the hip to reach the ground, it needs to travel through the hamstrings first. This means that in order to run fast, sprinters need to have strong hamstrings that are capable of absorbing and transmitting huge amounts of force effectively and without injury.

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Bel Air High School stomped on Patterson today in the first round of the playoffs, winning by slaughter rule 14-4.

Brendan Yetter, one of the athletes I train at the Bel Air Athletic Club, contributed heavily to the lopsided victory, going 2-for-2 with a single, triple, and a walk, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored, and 3 stolen bases. Brendan, just a sophomore, is one of the better athletes I train and he will likely have college coaches kicking in his front door at this time next year.

brendan yetter

I get that lots of people are completely fine with going to the gym day after day, doing the exact same program for years, and never changing a single thing. People are creatures of habit, and change can be intimidating. But if you’re going to spend the time and money to go to the gym, you might as well be improving yourself while you’re there. Going in every day and doing the exact same exercises, with the exact same weight, for the exact same number of sets and reps is not only tedious, it’s not really beneficial after the first couple of months. If your program doesn’t change, your body won’t change. And you might actually start to regress once your body adapts to your current plan.

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