Coach Lee Taft

Coach Lee Taft: “The Speed Guy”. Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

“Rules are for the Obedience of Fools and the Guidance of Wise Men.” – Douglas Bader

This is the second in a 3-part interview series…

The more I coach youth hitters and athletes, the more I realize that coaching isn’t about coaching (or telling), but listening.  This year, I’ve really grown in asking my hitters and athletes better questions.

My next guest will get into this more in a moment, but for now, it’s my honor to introduce…

Lee Taft, known to most simple as “The Speed Guy”, is highly respected as one of the top athletic movement specialist in the world. The last 25 years he has devoted the majority of his time training multi-directional speed to all ages and ability. He has spent much of this time teaching his multi-directional speed methods to top performance coaches and fitness professionals all over the world. Lee has also dedicated countless hours mentoring up and coming sports performance trainers, many who have gone into the profession and made a big impact themselves.

Here’s Speed Coach Lee…

 

If you were to train me for four weeks for a HUGE tournament and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?

Functional Movement Screen

Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Photo courtesy: FunctionalMovement.com

With only 4 weeks to get you ready we are going to take a three pronged approach. First we will address the needs based off your assessment. I will assess you using the Functional Movement Screen, basic mobility and flexibility to test range of motion in key joints like; ankles, hips, T and cervical spine, shoulder, and wrists, etc…, and Athletic Movement Screen where we would look at acceleration in all direction, ability to get through hips, speed, and overall agility.

The second area we will train is speed and agility. The approach here is to improve explosive acceleration to be better at getting a jump offensively and defensively, overall agility so you can effectively move in any direction and open your hips to make a play.

The final area we would attack is strength and stability. I can make more improvement in your overall stability of the major joints, spine, pelvis in a short 4 weeks than I can in overall maximal strength- but I can make some some neuromuscular changes due to the strength training.

So here we go with a program…

Week #1-#4:

  • Monday’s will consist of corrective/stability exercises, linear acceleration, and total body strength training (based on experience the strength training will be technique based for four weeks but slowly increasing resistance).
  • Wednesday will consist of corrective/stability exercises, lateral and angular acceleration, and total body strength (vary the movement patterns. example; bend, vertical push, vertical pull, etc…so they are different from Monday).
  • Finally on Friday we will follow up with the corrective exercises and test to see improvement/ and stability work, reactionary agility where drills are based on the coaches signal. Athlete will learn to explode in all directions based on a command. Lastly strength training (again, movement patterns will change back to Monday’s patterns).
Lee Taft Speed Training

Photo courtesy: LeeTaft.com

If we move to an eight week program the biggest change will come in the strength training and corrective and stability work. The speed and agility will obviously focus on need and overall athletic movement. The strength training will shift from a basic 4 week introductory program to a 3 blocks…

  1. The first strength block would be 2 weeks and emphasize more of an eccentric approach to build force reduction.
  2. The second block would be 3 weeks and emphasis more maximal strength with a tempo that is much faster than the first block.
  3. In the third block I would emphasize more power development with a fast concentric tempo.

A philosophy of mine is to constantly be willing to change according to how the athletes are doing day to day. Baseball and softball athletes require constant supervision due to the explosiveness of the sport and the high repetition through the shoulder and core regions.

What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?

The biggest influences for me were my father and two brothers. They were coaches and teachers. What, I feel, makes me different is my strong background as a teacher. Today it is common to see performance coaches skip steps and coach to the DRILL versus focusing on the SKILL. My approach has always been to identify the skills that need to be improved and attach drills that fit the solution- not the other way around.

I think one of the major difference I have than many coaches is my willingness to watch and learn from my athletes. What I mean is I don’t just start teaching my athletes. I watch them move and allow them to show me what they do well and what dysfunction they have. This approach makes my teaching stronger because I don’t waste time on things that aren’t pertinent to their success.

Many of the training techniques I endorsed years ago were based on innate human movement. There are reasons athletes move the way they do. Much of it can be related to our nervous systems “Fight or Flight” reactions. This means athlete have innate reactions based on if they are being chased or chasing. In either case, the athlete will move into an acceleration posture as quickly as possible to make a play.

An example of this would be an infielder quickly accelerating after a bunt. You will notice how they reposition their feet into an acceleration posture. One foot will drop back (which I coined a plyo step). When this occurs the use of elastic energy increases the acceleration. There are many examples of this fight or flight reaction to help athletes move quicker and more effectively.

My approach of allowing these reactions to occur naturally then supporting the movement with proper posture build a more efficient athlete.

 

What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?

There are two primary resources I feel novice coaches should use. Complete Speed Training and Ground Complete Speed Training: Lee TaftBreaking 2.

Complete Speed Training is a resource coaches can learn about many areas of speed, agility, strength, power, conditioning, and warming up.

Ground Breaking 2 is an indepth look at multi-directional speed techniques and how to teach them. Both are great products for coaches to gain valuable knowledge into the world of speed and agility and more.

I think it is important for coaches to use resources that solve their needs from a foundational standpoint first. This means, don’t overshoot your knowledge level. Too many coaches try to be jack of all trades when simply understanding the foundational information will take them far.

 

What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in hitting? What are the biggest wastes of time?

One of the biggest waste of times is when I see dads bring the heavy bat for their 9 year old- I cringe. Far too often strategies that are used at the highest levels trickle down. When a young kid uses a heavy bat the timing of the swing is distorted. The swing, at a young age, needs to be built with timing and feel. When the bat is too heavy, even for training purposes, the swing changes from the feet all the way to the hands. The youngsters try to muscle the swing rather than using proper mechanics.

Thanks Coach Lee!

Here’s how you can stay updated with Speed Coach Lee Taft:

Please direct any questions or comments for Coach Lee below…

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Hey guys,

Welcome back to the third post of this series.

  • First we talked about timing your nutrients.
  • Then we went into the hormonal changes needed to take advantage of the “anabolic window” right after you train.

Those previous post give great context to this post, so make sure to read them. Then come back here.

 

You Want To Drop Bombs?

As a baseball player who understands the game, I know strength does not always equal skill. If you are reading this post, you are probably working extremely hard to achieve your goals, or you are coaching young guys who have big goals. Some of you have sons that just want to play in college. That is an awesome pursuit. You should have big goals. And you should pursue them with everything possible.

 

This Is What You Are Missing

Ask this question to players, “Do you work hard?” Across the board, everyone says yes. Every player assumes they are doing everything they can to achieve their goals. This holds true until you meet someone who works way harder than you.

Then you step up  your game, refocus and change your standards. Similar to the story of the 4 minute mile. Nobody thought it could be done, until Roger Bannister made it happen. Now 10+ people have run a 4 minute mile.

Once one guy pioneered it, it became possible to everyone. You have to be the nutrition pioneer for your team.  Pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This is how players change their teams and how you can change your future.

 

Optimizing Your Nutrition

Sports nutrition is a great example of a missing piece. If you get this right, everything in your game will benefit. You will recover faster, grow more lean muscle and output more power at the batter’s box. I can’t help you make contact, but I can dang sure promise you faster growth and more strength. So what should you do?

 

Do Not “Eat Right”

Do not just “eat right.” When someone tells you to eat right, but they do not define what that means, your action steps get diluted. Most nutrition advice is for losing weight, getting 6 pack abs and increasing overall health. Those are great things for the average person, but that’s not you.

You are a high performance athlete. You may take 100 hacks in the cage then go right to the weight room. You should optimize your nutrition as a high performance athlete. You can get a six pack later….

 

Post Workout Breakdown

The natural bad response to a workout leads to muscle damage that occurs during and after exercise, activates an immune response which causes muscle inflammation and pain to the muscles that further damages the muscle fiber.

This slows down the reconstruction and growth of the muscle fiber. Some amino acids like glutamine and other branch chain amino acids (also known as BCAA’s) are also depleted after exercise. These amino acids are used up in vital processes during high intensity exercise.

These negative responses to muscle damage can actually result in a net protein loss. The original intention of your training, to gain strength (and hit bombs), is not the natural reaction of your muscles. This potential reduction in muscle mass and strength can hinder your bat speed and hurt your performance goals. Nobody wants this catabolic response.

The Anabolic Switch

ana

There is good news. With proper nutritional intervention, the right nutrients at the right time, you can flip this catabolic state (breakdown) to an anabolic state (building). Which reduces the negative effects of muscle damage, and stimulates a greater protein production resulting in muscle growth and increased strength. The results: you get stronger and recover faster.

Your timing is vital. If not taken serious, you will not see the benefits. Literally “every minute matters.”

We discussed previously the vital importance turning on the anabolic switch after a workout. If you tried this, you should have seen a benefit already in your training. If you haven’t tried it, why not?

 

The 3 Stages Of Muscle Growth

The anabolic switch is the most important action step to take serious right now. Everything revolves around you making sure this happens. Keep in mind, you can set up your muscles and training before you train.  And you can optimize appropriate nutrition availability throughout the rest of your recovery process.

As an athlete who trains regularly, you will use muscle for energy, there is a spike in response, then you will initiate recovery. The Throw Cheese Nutrient System separates your muscle development into three different stages:

  1. The Power Stage,
  2. The Anabolic Stage and
  3. The Re-Build Stage.

The Power Stage

During this phase, the primary objective of the muscle is to release enough energy to sufficiently propel muscle contraction. Either during training or while you are pitching. Most players recognize the importance of consuming carbohydrates during training. Carbohydrates prevent the depletion of muscle glycogen (which extends your endurance) and helps maintain blood glucose levels (which delays fatigue).Throw Cheese Nutrition System

The Throw Cheese Nutrient System will tell you more than to just consume carbohydrates during exercise. Research shows, that when you consume carbohydrates with protein, specific amino acids and vitamins, you will experience greater gains than just consuming these nutrients separately.

You will be able to spare muscle glycogen (Your back-up energy storage) and accomplish greater muscle stamina, limit the rise of the hormone cortisol (Reducing muscle damage – I touch on hormones more later VERY IMPORTANT) and help prepare enzymes for faster recovery following your workout.

[Basically, your teammates will be wondering where you get all your energy to keep going and why you are growing so strong. In turn, you will quickly gain velocity on your fastball and have greater stamina on the mound.  After a awhile, you will acquire nicknames like “machine” and “super-man.” That is when it gets fun. You will smile and be thanking me.]

The next phase in muscle growth, the Anabolic stage…

The Anabolic Stage

This phase of muscle growth is the 45 minute window Throw Cheese Nutrition Systemfollowing a workout. With the right combination of nutrients, this phase initiates repair of the damaged muscle protein, and replenishes muscle glycogen stores (where muscle energy is stored).

Right after you finish a workout, your muscles are extremely sensitive to a hormone called insulin.  Insulin is key to muscle growth. Although this muscle sensitivity is high immediately after your workout, this sensitivity declines rapidly. Within a few hours your muscle cells can become insulin resistant (NOT good). If your muscle become insulin resistant you see dramatic slows in muscle glycogen recovery, muscle repair, and creation of new muscle. Don’t let this happen.

As you go through the Throw Cheese Nutrient System, you will learn why the consumption of carbohydrates during this 45 minute window is so important. You will learn about driving muscle glycogen recovery, muscle tissue repair and creation of new muscle (protein synthesis). Also you will learn how protein, consumed without carbohydrates, is less effective! And you will learn why specific antioxidants can boost muscle recovery.

The Re-Build Stage

This stage begins at the end of the Anabolic Stage and continues until your next workout. During this stage the muscle enzymes (proteins that speed up chemical reactions ) help increase the number of contractile proteins (what causes the muscle to flex ) and help increase the size of the muscle fibers (why you look so jacked). These enzymes also help replenish muscle glycogen storage (muscle energy storage) used up during the Power Stage.Throw Cheese Nutrition System

The Rebuild Stage is just as vital as the previous two stages. During this phase, you must continue to eat carbohydrates and proteins to maintain optimal muscle growth. Including the correct intervals between consumption. Protein consumed at the right time pays off with huge increases for any strength athlete. Especially pitchers looking to throw gas (Or as a hitter, drop bombs).

If you follow the Throw Cheese Nutrient System, you will be able to sustain a high “anabolic state”, restore muscle energy, repair the damaged muscle tissue, create new muscle, and see fastball velocity gains that will light up radar guns.

 

How To Maximize Protein Synthesis During  Recovery (The Rebuild Stage)

The amount of protein you consume each day is SO important to your overall muscle gain and muscle recovery. There are many studies that measure the exact amount of protein for athletes to maximize performance. Here are two mentioned in the Rebuild Stage…

Body Builder Study:

“In a 4 week study by Fern and associates, they found a greater gain in total muscle mass for body builders who consumed 3.3 grams per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight of protein versus those who consumed 1.2 grams per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight per day. So at first glance we see a higher amount of daily protein and a higher amount of muscle mass. But this study also showed a measureable amount of protein that was not retained. Most likely, the group that consumed 3.3 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight had exceeded the amount of protein that can be used for protein synthesis.”

Athlete Protein Study:

“A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology by Tarnopolsky and colleagues measured athlete’s entire body protein synthesis based on per day protein consumption. The athletes consumed either consumed .9 to 1.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Or they consumed an increased 2.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. In this study, they did NOT observe an increase in protein synthesis.

These examples are only 2 out of 5 examples shown in the rebuild stage. The great thing about studies like this, is you can learn from them and test them on yourself.

So how much protein should you consume each day?

It depends on your weight and your performance goals. A full comprehensive guideline for your recovery and macronutrient profile is laid out clearly in the Throw Cheese Nutrient System.

 

What Exactly You Should Do

You need to try out this course and start to implement the findings. Joey asked me to write these posts because he cares about you guys. He actually wants you to get better. After lots of discussion, it’s clear to me, you are all in good hands.

There is two types of responses to an educational course like this one.

  • Reaction 1 – Try it, learn and grow as fast as possible. See measurable improvement by measuring the right performance indicators and controlling your nutrient intake at the right times.
  • Reaction 2 – Uncertainty and hesitation. The first type of people succeed in baseball. The second type will continue to struggle and forever be scared to try anything.

 

How To Change Your Muscle Forever

The simplest way to know if you are doing the right thing for your athletic career, is to try it. Test it out. Call me out if you do not learn something. I believe in these courses and I know it will help you.

Click the link below, scroll down to the bottom of the page and buy the course and start to change your nutrition optimization today.

Throw Cheese Nutrition System

Pitchers Throw Cheese System

-Zach

P.S.: If you want more information about me, check out www.pitchersthrowcheese.com and sign up to my newsletter. Or email me at zach [at] pitchersthrowcheese [dot] com

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

P.P.P.S.: What are you waiting for, grab your own copy of the Throw Cheese Nutrient System–> Click here

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Last post, we talked about timing your nutrition. But why? How does changing a few minutes of nutrition intake make any difference in your recovery and training? The answer revolves around your bodies hormonal response and an idea called the “Anabolic window.”

Anabolic response is a fancy word for building. When you see the word anabolic, think to build, when you see the word catabolic, think breaking down.

X-axis is time after workout

 

This graph is showing the anabolic response to nutrients after you exercise. There is a sharp anabolic response to nutrients immediately after your workout. But as you wait, your muscles are less responsive to anabolic activates and less responsive to nutrition.

 

How Hormones Change Your Training

Why is this the case? This is because of an important hormone called insulin. Insulin is released by your pancreases into your bloodstream when your body detects certain foods in your system. The most popular function of insulin is the regulation of glucose. If your bloodstream has a glucose level that is too high, then this can be toxic and lead to death. So insulin helps lower your blood sugar. Thus you stay alive. Good!

Check this out, the presence of insulin after a workout has been shown to boost recovery and increase muscle gain.

 

Studies To Help Us

There have been many studies proving the effect of insulin on protein synthesis (the creation of new muscle).  Penn State University Medical School researchers found that insulin stimulated ribosomes (cellular machinery) involved in the creation of muscle protein.

In a different study, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Galveston found that, after an insulin infusion, new muscle creation (protein synthesis) in the muscle cell increased by approximately 67 percent post workout.

I took advantage of this insulin response to glucose right after workouts. This recovery tool, aided my fastball increase from 88 mph to 95 mph in less than a year. When you take your nutrient intervention serious. Big things happen. You accomplish performance goals you never thought possible. I want this same success for you.

I teach a lot of pitchers how to train harder and recover fast (to throw harder). So I call nutrient intervention “Throw Cheese Intervention.” These same principals apply to hitters.

Here is an example of a normal insulin response to exercise without nutrient intervention:

Insulin’s Bad Reputation

Insulin promotes fat syntheses and decreases fat breakdown when your body is in a sedentary state. Over a long period of time, high insulin levels and buildup of body fat have been linked to type 2 diabetes. This is true and scary for a lot of people out there. But keep in mind. The sensitivity of your fat cells to insulin to store fat, is highly dependent on your bodies anabolic state.

The degree at which insulin promotes fat storage (bad), or carbohydrate storage, or protein syntheses (good) depends on which cells are sensitive to the insulin. Different cells (muscle cells or fat cells etc.) are sensitive to insulin based on the timing of your nutrients in regards to when your body was stressed during training.

We detail this very important, nutrition time sensitive characteristic, in the Throw Cheese Nutrient System. The timing and effectiveness of your nutrient intervention has a huge effect on your hormonal and biochemical response to workouts. An elite athlete (who is training everyday) muscle cells responds positively to insulin, especially right after your workout.

Exactly What You Should Do

Right after your workouts your muscle cells are the most sensitive to insulin and glucose. There is a 15 to 45 minute window that your body is starving for nutrient intervention. During this time you need to consume a protein/carbohydrate beverage (in a liquid form). The carbohydrate I want you to consume is sugar.

This will “open” the gates for amino acids, creatine and glucose for new muscle creation, limit muscle damage and blunt negative hormone response from training. The ratio of carbohydrates to protein is 3/1 or 4/1 carbohydrates to protein. For a post-workout supplementation, a 200 pound athlete should consume approximately 15 – 20 grams of whey protein and 50 – 60 grams of high-glycemic carbohydrates (dextrose) immediately after training.

Here is a picture of my shake after a workout:

More precise calculation of your pre-training, during training and post training nutrition is something we will lay out for you later.  So stay tuned bro and bro-ettes!

Keep in mind, carbohydrates and protein are both good by themselves. But when you add them together,  carbohydrates are complimentary to protein in training recovery and strength gains. Immediately following your workout, is the “Prime time” to get protein/carbohydrates into your system. The faster the better!

The below graph shows a large anabolic difference when nutrient intervention takes place.

From the Throw Cheese Nutrient System:

What Kind Of Sugar?

Not all sugars are a strong stimulator of insulin. Avoid products with high fructose or galactose. For example, many fruits (bananas, apples, citrus fruits ) and all vegetables (asparagus, artichoke, beans, broccoli) contain high fructose levels. They are not ideal immediately after your workout (Plus they are slower to digest).  Strong insulin driving carbohydrates include sucrose, maltodextrin and dextrose.

 

Here Is What I Use

I prefer the carbohydrate dextrose (order Dextrose Powder on Amazon). It is derived entirely from corn, making it natural, effective, and easily utilized by the body. You can scoop this into your shaker along-side your whey protein (whey protein is also very insulinogenic).

What If You Wait?

2 hours after your workout, your muscle can actually become insulin resistant. What this means is your muscle cells will not use the nutrients needed to build and repair the damage you caused during training. In other words, all the work you put into training is wasted. (what a crying shame!)

Do not waste your workouts by limiting your fuel intake. Every minute counts, literally.

Stay tuned for the next blog post, and keep working hard.

-Zach

PS: I wrote a a free course called “5 Nutrition Shortcuts To A 90+ MPH Fastball” grab your own copy —> click here

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

References:

Gleeson, M., Lancaster, G.I., and Bishop, N.C., “Nutritional strategies to minimize exercise induced Immuno suppression in athletes,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S23-S35, 2001.

Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances

whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34:828-837, 2002.

Ivy, J.L., Katz, A.L., Cutler, C.L., et al., “Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of

time on carbohydrate ingestion,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 64:1480-1485, 1988.

Ivy, J.L., “Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise,” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(Suppl):S236-S245, 2001.

Suzuki, M., Doi, T., Lee, S.J., et al., “Effect of meal timing after resistance exercise on hind limb muscle mass and fat accumulation in trained rats,” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 45:401-409, 1999.

Disclaimer: Always consult a medical professional before taking any nutrition supplements.

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on gaining power faster through nutrition:

Zach contacted me over email one day,

…and said he increased his throwing speed by 10-mph,

Eventually topping out at 95-mph using nutrition and hard work.

(enter brakes screeching sound effect)…

I said to Zach, “Hold on, so it wasn’t mechanics?  It wasn’t PED use?  It was nutrition?!”

It wasn’t a total shocker to me,

Because I’m not new to the power of nutrition

I’ve spent a decade in the fitness training world.

And I know how powerful an athlete’s nutrition can be to recovery, muscle building, etc.

So I told him to send over what he was selling because I was curious about his process.

In the following 3-Part series, Zach is going to outline his journey of self-discovery.  The best part is, he used proven science to get there!

And please note, just because this worked for him pitching, doesn’t mean it won’t work for increasing bat and ball exit speeds.

I just want to warn you though, some of what Zach talks about can get a little technical, so take your time and read over the material a couple times, till you can synthesize it.

Rest assured, it’ll be worth the extra work.

Enter Zach Calhoon…

The Sports Nutrition Studies That Started My Journey To 95 MPH

The Moment Everything Changed…

I will never forget this moment. I looked up from a book I was reading and had this thought “Everything will change from this day forward…”

On a bus, on my way to the next 3 game series. We stopped at a parking lot for lunch. I snuck away to the bookstore and grabbed a couple books on nutrition and sports science. This day started my journey towards what I call the “secret” to success – research.

In high school, I was an average pitcher throwing 84 MPH. I was over 6 feet tall, but besides that, I wasn’t that good.

I always knew, deep down inside, I could be great one day. I knew that I could throw 90 MPH and be a pitching stud. But I didn’t know how to get there (Or that eventually, I would throw 95 MPH).

So I worked. And worked hard. Which led to some success and I eventually got a small scholarship to a division 1 school in San Antonio – The University of Texas at San Antonio.

But I still threw about 85 MPH. So how did my fastball increase by 10 mph all the way to 95 MPH?

The Sports Nutrition Studies That Started My Journey To 95 MPH

Question: If I told you that I could triple your muscle gain with one tip, would you believe me?

Probably not.

I’m going to show you multiple published controlled studies that show the timing of protein increasing protein synthesis by 3 times.

Heavy research has been done regarding your bodies reaction to when you put nutrients into your body. Check out some of these studies about amino acid uptake and protein synthesis:

“Multiple studies confirm that the supplementing amino acids immediately following a workout, greatly benefits the athlete. Okamure and associates found that immediately following a workout (the Anabolic Stage) that protein synthesis increased 25% and amino acid uptake doubled when a carbohydrate/protein supplement was administered. Biolo and colleagues tested resistance training athlete’s response to post workout supplementation. They saw an amino acid uptake and protein synthesis 3-4 times greater in tested subjects supplementing immediately after exercise.

The critical timing of protein is best represented in a study conducted by Levenhagen and colleagues at Vanderbilt University. This study looked at the effect on protein synthesis comparing protein/carbohydrate supplementation immediately following exercise or protein/carbohydrate supplementation waiting 3 hours after exercise. He tested 10 subjects. 5 male and 5 female. Each subject was tested after 60 minutes of exercise. The subjects given a protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately following exercise experience protein synthesis 3 times greater than the subjects who waited 3 hours. The immediate group saw a considerable net protein gain. While the 3 hour delayed subjects actually saw a net protein loss.

See the above chart for a visual

 

Test Yourself

Research studies are compelling. But they are crowded with jargon and limited to certain controls. I use research studies to start the process of thinking critically about my assumptions. Then I test those assumptions on my own. I measure the output and see how I feel.

In this case, I had an ignorant assumption that timing of my nutrients did not matter. I read about this research and immediately tested, and kept testing (you should too). I went from an average 86 to 87 MPH fastball my sophomore year of college to 95 MPH in 8 months. I never changed my training, just my nutrient intake at the right times.

Faster Results Matter

Mike Trout Robbing a Home-Run

Mike Trout robbing a homer. Photo courtesy: NJ.com

You just learned that timing your protein can lead to faster recovery and better results. So what does that mean for you? Well if you are reading this, there is a good chance you are a hitter. You want to increase your average, and drop bombs.

Check out the photo on the right of Trout robbing a home run. He looks cool here. But if you are the hitter who just hit that ball, this has to make you extremely angry. All the work you put in, and just a few more feet would be a big league home-run.

Do Not Rely On Luck

I want you to have success. I am about to share with you knowledge all revolving around nutrition’s ability to make you 10% to 20% more powerful.  Even if I only increase your power by 5 %.  That small increase in power will send the baseball out of the park and keep Mike Trout empty handed. And that’s a great thing. Champions are made one inch at a time.

What’s Next?

In the next few post we are going to talk about a variety of nutrition shortcuts to power. Whey protein, dextrose corn sugar, glucose, insulin, anabolic windows and many other things. All of which helped me become an elite athlete. I truly believe you can be a great baseball player. But you have to put in the work. That means maximizing every aspect of your training. Especially nutrition.

 

Baseball Is Behind

In the past few years, most elite athlete knowledge has been limited to the big boys in the MLB. Now some of the greatest research is making its way to college, high school and little league athletes. But it is taking time. Lets grow the knowledge of baseball players everywhere, and lets get better in less time.

Stay tuned, there is a lot to come.

-Zach

P.S.: I wrote a a free course called “5 Nutrition Shortcuts To A 90+ MPH Fastball” grab your own copy —> click here

P.P.S.: Thanks for reading. Share this with a friend.

References:

Biolo, G., Tipton, K.D., Klein, S., et al., “An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein,” American Journal of Physiology, 273:E122-E119, 1997
Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Post exercise protein intake enhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 34:828-837, 2002.
Levenhagen, D.K., Gresham, J.D., Carlson, M.G., et al., “Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis,” American Journal of Physiology, 280:E982-E993, 2001.
Okamura, K., Doi, T., Hamada, K., et al., “Effect of amino acid and glucose administration during post-exercise recovery on protein kinetics in dogs,” American Journal of Physiology, 272:E1023-E1030, 1997.
Conditioning Little Leaguers Warmup

Photo courtesy: Science.HowStuffWorks.com

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball, for little leaguers:

How many of you do a dynamic warm-up with your players to start practice?

If you do not, then Dr. Stanley Beekman’s post is timely.

In the following post, the Doc will give you an active full body warm up routine you can use with your young athletes.

I even have my private instruction hitters do a RAMP warm-up routine before we start hitting.  RAMP stands for:

  • Range-of-motion – increase flexibility like Dr. Stanley will talk about in his post below,
  • Activation – activating certain muscles that tend to turn off because excessive sitting during the day, and
  • Movement Preparation – certain exercises that mimic specific hitting positions or movements.

This is promoted heavily in my Youth Fitness Specialist certification through the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA).

If you’re not including a dynamic warm-up, then you’re cutting your young athletes short.

Enter Dr. Stanley…

——

This is the second of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball little leaguers. In this post we’ll go over:

  • What is flexibility?
  • 4 reasons we want flexibility,
  • 7 causes of “inflexibility”,
  • Why warm up? And,
  • A sample warm up program to encourage flexibility

 

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility is defined as the ability to bend without breaking. In sports we mean ease and range of movement.

 

4 Reasons WHY We Want Flexibility?

  1. Injury prevention: For example Achilles tendonitis is caused by tight calf muscles.
  2. Better technique: Example – limitation of internal rotation of the hip joint will prevent the batter from staying closed.
  3. More Speed: Larger range of motion will allow more time to accelerate a body part.
  4. Less restriction of movement means more speed with less effort.

 

7 Causes of “Inflexibility”?

  1. Cold muscles
  2. The need to stabilize joint dysfunctions
  3. Injuries or dysfunction of muscles-agonists or antagonists, ligaments, and fascia
  4. Emotional stress
  5. Avoidance of  pain (prior or current)
  6. Shortened muscles
  7. Improper position of adjacent joints

 

Why Warm Up?

  • Muscles are like sponges. When they are dry they are stiff and will tear if moved. When they are dipped in water they become flexible
  • Joint movement pumps synovial (joint) fluid through the cartilage and prepares it for activity

 

A Sample Warm Up Program to Encourage Flexibility

So, what is the best way to warm up the body before performing intense exercise?

I have had a few kids on my son’s team work out with him. These are the warm up exercises we do. There are many other great warm up exercises, but the key here is to get the blood flowing to all the muscles and the heart and lungs working.

Sometimes there is an overlap between warming up and ballistic stretching (which we will talk about in the next installment).

We start slowly and then build up. If you have any favorite warm up exercises, let us know in the comments section below…

1. Running with high knees 15 yards

2. Running kicking the butt 15 yards

3. Lunge walks 10 yards

4. Side lunge walks 10 yards

5. Head rotation 10x each way 

6. Arm circles forwards 10x

7. Arm circles backwards 10x

8. Huggers 10x

9. Indian clubs for shoulders, elbows and wrists 10x (Stay with 1 lb clubs)
Indian Clubs on Amazon

10. Bulgarian bag thoracic warm up 10x each way.

11. Trunk twist 10x each way

12. Hip Circles 10x each way

13. Knee Circles 10x each way 

14. Karaoke 15 yds left lead and 20 yds right lead

15. Free Squats 10x

16. Bear Crawls 15yds

17. Crab Walks 15yds

18. Burpees with Hindu push up and jump 10x

Next time we will talk about stretching…

 

In this post I am going to talk about:

  • The importance of traction when going fast,
  • A possible energy leak related to the baseball cleats, and
  • I want to hear from you…

 

The Importance of Traction When Going Fast

When a car goes around a turn, traction is required to prevent sliding.  In the following video, watch how the tire blew out, and the wheels without the tire couldn’t provide adequate traction.

 

A Possible Energy Leak Related to the Baseball Cleats

Watch the slow motion YouTube video of Albert Pujols’s swing, in the BIG video at the top of this post…

Look at the lead heel between 9 and 10 seconds. The heel slides forward about an inch, while the forefoot is stationary.

To his credit, Albert Pujols does get his lead foot stabilized just before contact.

Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters of our generation, and even with the initial sliding of his heel, he hits a home run.

Note from Joey Myers – I read an interesting quote from Dr. Gray Cook, the co-founder of the Functional Muscle Screen (or FMS), and he said that, “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.”  If the foot, especially the landing foot, loses contact with the ground during the turn, then the smaller hitter will have energy transfer issues.  A good solid foundation with the front foot is key.

 

I Want to Hear from You…

What would have happened on a softer surface?

Should we be considering cleats of different lengths for different batter’s boxes?

How does Pujols produce his linear speed in such a short distance?

Give me your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

The Sooner You Use These Baseball Exercises the Better

 

Baseball Exercises: How To Build A Stable Swing

Compare Austin’s right shoulder position…these pics are 3-frames apart, same swing.

I was working on a feedback session with one of my online lessons Austin, from SoCal, the other day…

And I realized that yes, most of the time, fixes are swing specific, but other times…

It can be suggesting a corrective exercise to help stabilize the core better during the swing.  In this post, I’m going to walk you through:

  • The late torso “tip”, and then
  • How to correct it with two simple baseball exercises…

 

The Late Torso “Tip”

Watch the quick analysis video above…

Basically it’s a late tipping of the torso towards the plate, at the waist.  This can cause the head to lay parallel to the ground obstructing vision.  Sometimes, the back shoulder and ear get closer to together (like Derek Jeter), which breaks, what Dr. Kelly Starrett calls, spinal integrity, and will bleed force at impact.

This can be caused by a dysfunctional Quadratus Lumborum (or QL).  And, according to Thomas Myers of Anatomy Trains, an imbalanced Lateral Fascial Line.

 

How To Correct it with Two Simple Baseball Exercises

Here are the two exercises to help with lateral core stabilization during the Final Turn:

  1. Side Plank (specific) – or CLICK HERE to view a side plank laying on the forearm (if you have wrist issues).
  2. One-Sided Farmer’s Walk (integrated).

Here’s what the acute variables look like (for both baseball exercises)…

  • Week-ONE: 2 sets X 45 secs ea. side,
  • Week-TWO: 2 sets X 60 secs each side,
  • Week-THREE: 3 sets X 45 secs ea. side, and
  • Week-FOUR: 3 sets X 60 secs ea side.

Do these baseball exercises horizontally.  In other words, do a set of side planks (both sides), followed by a set of one-sided farmer’s walks (both sides).  Rest 60-seconds, then move onto set #2.

Jose Bautista Balanced Body in Motion

Did you know…Jose Bautista does Yoga in the off-season? He’s a great example of a balanced body in motion. Photo courtesy: www3.Pictures.Zimbio.com

This is the third part in three part Why Your Balance Fails (Not What You Think) series about balance.

I’ll be discussing a not so well known way to improve balance, posture, and technique.  I’ll be talking about:

  • Tim’s story,
  • Tim’s problem,
  • How-to fix Tim’s problem, and
  • How does this relate to hitting…

 

Tim’s Story

Tim was the strongest kid on his small college football team. He was 22 years old, 6′ 2 and 200 pounds of solid muscle.  He wanted to improve his power clean, so he came to the gym to see what he could learn.

At the time I was 48 years old and weighed 165 pounds. I watched as he power cleaned and advised him that he could keep his back tighter.  As we lifted and as the weights got heavier, I noticed his confidence grew.

When we were at 90kg (198 pounds) and he was ready to lift, he gave me a look that said, I am going to beat you!  When we got to 105 kg, he missed the lift, as the weight was too far in front to rack. I went up to 107.5 kg and told him that was all for me today.

The harder he tried, the worse the more in front the bar ended up. He started growling before the lift, and that didn’t work. He finally gave up.

 

Tim’s Problem

Tim’s problem was that he didn’t maintain his fine balance and  let his weight drift back on the heels during the lift. Even though this is a stronger position, (as in a dead lift), it is not an athletic position.

Keep in mind that as long as Tim’s weight is somewhere over the foot (gross balance) he will not fall over. Fine balance is the ability to position the weight at an an exact point over the foot.

 

How to Fix Tim’s Problem

A lot of coaching cues used for Jim’s problem are:

  • “Finish the pull”,
  • “Pull the bar closer to the ankle”, and
  • “Make sure the elbows move straight up”.

The best coaching cues have a greater positive impact and don’t result in other issues.  In this case, the best way to fix Tim’s problem was to have him feel for the weight on his feet.

In the power clean it is best to feel that the weight is just behind the ball of the foot.  When this is felt, the weight can only go straight up.

 

How does this relate to hitting?

In hitting, the best way to stride forward is to be balanced and to push off the entire foot. If you are on the ball of the foot, the Achilles tendon will absorb some of the force of the stride.

However if the weight is too far back onto the heel,  you will stride angled away from the plate and the heel will not come off the ground to allow rotation.

The most athletic way to start the stride is with the heel lightly touching the ground. Body weight will be just behind the ball of the foot. In this starting position, it allows for the best push, but also enables you to get on the ball of the foot.

My beautiful picture

 

(Joey Myers comment: when we look at efficient v. inefficient movement mechanics, I don’t like striding and landing on the toe, pausing, then swinging because we don’t take advantage of Gravitational Forces to turn the pelvis for us naturally.  And like Dr. Stanley says, landing toe first (without the pause), the Achilles Tendon will absorb – instead of exploit – some of those forces as well.  Practice the following experiment Dr. Stanley prescribes below and ingrain it to second nature.)  

 

Experiment

Practice your stride feeling for the weight on your foot. Try it at various places and see where you feel the most efficient and straightest stride:

  • Weight on your toes, so the heel is off the ground
  • Ball of the foot
  • Just behind the ball of the foot
  • Middle of the arch
  • At the Heel

After you find the best way for you to push off repeat this frequently to ingrain this pattern. Keep in mind that with any technique change, with enough proper repetitions, the change will become habit and you will not have to think about it.

CLICK HERE for a BONUS Part-4 post to this series titled: What Do Pyramids, Dancers, and Mike Trout Teach Us About Hitting For Power.

In case you missed Parts 1 & 2, here they are:

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball, for little leaguers:

This will be the start of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball, for little leaguers.

In this post we’ll go over:

  • The six properties of muscles,
  • The properties of muscles that can be developed for baseball,
  • The wrong conditioning, and
  • Is there an order to develop the muscles?

Conditioning for baseball (and softball) is relatively new. At the end of the baseball season in 1982, in the Cleveland Indians training room, I had a discussion with Phil Seghi, the general manager. The training room consisted of a table for massage, a full body whirlpool and an ice maker.

Dr. Stanley:  “The baseball players should be put on a strength and flexibility program“.

Phil Seghi: “Lou Boudreau never lifted a weight in his life“.

 

The 6 Properties of Muscles

1. Strength – tension developed by muscles. It requires the brain to send a signal to contract a higher percentage of muscle fibers.

Franco Columbo Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Columbu

Franco Columbo Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Columbu

2. Speed – the ability to develop tension quickly.

Usain Bolt photo courtesy of toplowridersites.com/

Usain Bolt photo courtesy of toplowridersites.com/

3. Endurance – the ability to contract muscles for a long period of time. This involves slow twitch fibers. In baseball, we should be thinking of increasing the ability to “do work” instead of endurance.

4. Flexibility – the ability to relax a muscle

Photo Courtesy of mashaballerina.tumblr.co

Photo Courtesy of mashaballerina.tumblr.co

5. Spring – the ability to  store and release energy. This occurs in the connective tissue around the muscle, the fascia, and/or the tendons.

6. Coordination – the ability to contract muscles and relax muscles in a pattern that allows for the efficient movement.

Leonidas Sabanis photo sequence courtesy of sweatpit.com

Leonidas Sabanis Olympic Snatch photo sequence courtesy of sweatpit.com

Muscles can be trained for these properties individually and  in some combination (ie. Speed-strength, Endurance-strength, Speed-endurance).

The Properties of Muscles that can be Developed for Baseball

All of the properties can be developed by specific exercises with the exception of reception of Nerve impulses.

However, as part of strength development, we need to enhance the transmission of nerve impulses by the brain.

The Wrong Conditioning

When my son was eight, I took him to a “natural” body building competition, thinking if nothing else, it might inspire him. He noticed that when the competitors walked on the stage there was something strange. He said:

Dad, they walk like robots, is there something wrong with them?”

Do either  of these look like they can play baseball?

Photo courtesy of 7arb.net

Abel Kirui photo courtesy of takethemagicstep.com

Both of the above are well conditioned, but they are not conditioned for baseball.

The body builder is conditioned for endurance-strength, and the marathoner is conditioned for endurance.

Is There an Order for these Characteristics to be Developed?

Flexibility is the first property that needs to be developed. If a muscle is tight, it is difficult to get into proper positions to develop strength.

Next time we will discuss the latest science on Flexibility.

[Note from Joey: this is a timely post by Dr. Stanley.  He mentioned that conditioning for baseball players is fairly new.  Yes, we’ve come a long way since the Doc had his run in with Cleveland Indians GM Phil Seghi in 1982.  BUT, the sport has NOT done a good job in the area of corrective exercise.  Consider how bad Tommy John surgeries have gotten.  Think of the stretching that is done in Yoga, as a critical form of corrective exercise.  And how many guys are engaging in this practice on their own.  One guy in particular? Jose Bautista.]

CLICK HERE for Part-2 to what coaches need to know about flexibility training for Little Leaguers…

This is the second part to the “Why Your Balance Fails (Not What You Think)”  three part series about balance. I’ll be discussing a fairly common reason for balance issues around the ankle. In the

Photo courtesy: PeterJohnson.co.uk

Photo courtesy: PeterJohnson.co.uk

following post, we’ll go over:

  • Billy’s story,
  • What can be the long term results of an ankle sprain,
  • How do we check for and train for lack of balance, and
  • How does this affect hitting…

 

Billy’s Story

Billy was a high school runner and during a training run he twisted his ankle. He didn’t seek treatment, but he did stay off his ankle and iced it. A few weeks later he tried running again and noticed that his ankle felt weak and unstable.

I examined him and found out that he had an unstable ankle.

 

What is the Long-Term Results of an Ankle Sprain?

Most people have sprained their ankle. It is the most common injury in the human body. Most cases seem to heal uneventfully. However, some nerve fibers will become injured resulting in a less effective sensor, resulting in instability.

The medical term for this is Articular Deafferentiation which means:  The joint does not send a signal to the brain as to its position.

It has been thought that the instability is due to stretched ligaments, but recent studies have shown that the muscle reaction time is slower in functionally unstable ankles.

 

6-Steps on How to Check for This…

Watch the video below for a demonstration:

  1. Stand in a doorway
  2. Place the hands in the door jamb so that if you fall you can catch yourself
  3. Stand on one foot
  4. Move your hands a few inches from the door jamb
  5. Close your eyes
  6. Have someone time how long you can maintain your balance without having to touch the door jamb.

What is Normal?

Normal for non athletes is 10 seconds. You should be better than normal.  You should be able to maintain your balance for 30 seconds or more.

How do we improve it?

Practice standing in the doorway with your eyes closed for 3 minutes every day. There should be steady and consistent improvement.  To further improve on the doorway balance exercise, you can do one of two things (watch the next two videos for a demonstration):

  1. Try getting up on the ball of the foot and then lowering yourself maintaining balance.

 

OR:

2. Raising the knee and lowering it.

How Does this Affect Hitting?

When the hitter steps forward with the front foot, there is no weight on the front foot when it is off the ground, it is all on the back foot.  Since the  body weight is in front of the back foot, and supported on the back foot, the body moves forwards.  If there is wobble of the ankle, the body wobbles and the ball  appears to have movement.  At the end of linear movement, body weight is shifted to the front foot.

When the weight is evenly distributed on both feet, it should mark the end of linear motion and the start of rotational motion.  During hip rotation, the majority of weight is shifted onto the front foot and the front leg straightens.  If the front ankle is unstable at this important time of the swing,  there may be a slight wobble.

Remember that only ¼” of a difference is required to change a home run to a long fly ball.

(Joey Myers Comment: I love this simple exercise.  These are good for EVERY athlete.  I sprain my own ankle during Fall Ball my Freshman year in college.  And shockingly, none of this was prescribed to me then…at the Division One college level!!!  I’m currently doing this exercise myself after reading the article…thanks Doc!  This is what I call a small detail that nets BIG results.)

CLICK HERE for Part-3 to the Why Balance Fails Series titled “Crucial Way To Land On The Foot”.