Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

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.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

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.
Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

8 Critical Principles to Coaching Youth Baseball Revealed

Imagine Coaching Youth Baseball, & Loving Every Minute Of It

Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown

And these principles don’t JUST work for coaching youth baseball.

These “rules” work for coaching youth fastpitch softball as well.

And the word “youth” doesn’t discriminate between a 7-year-old OR a 24-year-old.  They work at ANY level.  And ANY sport for that matter!  We’re talking principles here people 😛

This subject came up recently in an email I received from Brian Petrick, a High School Varsity baseball coach…

“Just wondering how you would organize hitting for a team practice. I’m in the northeast so I’m stuck in the gym with one batting cage. How would you organize hitting stations for 15-17 guys including variance instead of mass practice. I’m hoping to have 2 tee stations, 2 flat bat stations with whiffle balls. and the cage. cage will some days split in half for two groups of front toss and other days have regular BP. (At the same time 1 or 2 pitchers are throwing their bullpens) It can be difficult to keep the guys focused for an hour of hitting when we’re stuck in the gym for 4 weeks. I coach high school varsity so I do have jr’s and sr’s.”

Now, I’m not in the trenches, coaching youth baseball teams, like some of you are.  This is why I’m also asking for your help below.

Although, I DO want to give you the coaching youth baseball principles that I’ve learned to use with my paid one-on-one hitters, small groups, and team consulting.

In this coaching youth baseball post, we’ll talk about:

  • Coaching youth baseball: 8 scientific principles of successful learning, and
  • We need your help coaches…

Two books that changed my life, when it comes to teaching:

  1. Make It Stick, by Peter C. Brown
  2. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born.  It’s Grown.  Here’s How., by Daniel Coyle

This post will highlight book #1 above.  Book #2 echos and adds to the same “rules”.  Let’s explore advice that’s grounded in research…

 

Coaching Youth Baseball: 8 Scientific Principles of Successful Learning

The following coaching youth baseball “rules” will optimize the learning process, guaranteed.  As Peter C. Brown puts learning, in his book Make It Stick:

“Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful.  Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow…The need to understand that when learning is hard, you’re doing important work…when learning is harder, it’s stronger, and lasts longer.

I’ll relate the following Make It Stick learning principles to coaching youth baseball hitters…the following is highlighted material from my book:

  • Principle #1: Test Often – spaced repetition of key ideas.  Think constant quizzing or testing.  Spread out the learning of a topic, and return to it periodically.  This form of periodic practice arrests forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain.  I test my hitters on the information they’re learning in that session a TON!  They leave our sessions mentally drained.
  • Principle #2: Mix it Up!  – interleaving of different but related topics – if they interleave the study of different topics, they learn each better than if they had studied them one at a time in sequence.  For example, one of my hitters may learn how to land on a bent front knee, downhill shoulder angle, and keep a 90-degree bend in the back knee during the turn.  They’re all related but aren’t exactly in proper swing sequence.
  • Principle #3: Variance – CLICK HERE to read about this and the 3-foot bucket and bean bag study.  I love this one!!  I use it all the time from swings off the tee, to plate distances from the person throwing batting practice, to random pitching (think Cal Poly study in previous post link).
  • Principle #4: Solve a Problem BEFORE Instruction is Given – Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.  Before I teach something new, I may ask my hitter to tell me what the purpose of a given mechanical layer would be before I tell them the answer.
  • Principle #5: Elaborate! – elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know.  This is another way to quiz them.  But I reserve this for the hitters that have worked with me for awhile, so they’re drawing from and connecting the “right” information.
  • Principle #6: Failure is a Badge of Effort – and is a source of useful information.  The need to dig deeper or to try a different strategy.  Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.  Failure in learning the swing has to be encouraged.  I tell my hitters it’s okay to not have the right answer when I ask them.  It’s okay to not hit the ball hard (if we’re working on a specific mechanical layer during a session).
  • Principle #7: Quality v. Quantity – the amount of study time is no measure of mastery.  Just because you take 1,000 swings a day, doesn’t mean you’re being effective with your practice.  Tim Ferriss, in his NY bestselling book The Four Hour Chef, said: “If effectiveness is doing the right things, efficiency is doing things right.  Even with the best material, if your time-to-fluency is 20 years, the return on investment (ROI) is terrible.” 
  • Principle #8: Delay Feedback – in motor learning, trial and error with delayed feedback is a more awkward but effective way of acquiring a skill than trial and correction through immediate feedback; immediate feedback is like the training wheels on a bicycle: the learner quickly comes to depend on the continued presence of the correction.  I used to give feedback after every swing.  But now I wait till the end of a 5-swing round…and even then, they get quizzed before I tell them how those swings actually were.

Fore-WARNING from Peter C. Brown, in his book…

“Practice that’s spaced out, interleaved with other learning, and varied produces better mastery, longer retention, and more versatility.  But these benefits come at a price: when practice is spaced, interleaved, and varied, it requires more effort.  You feel the increased effort, but not the benefits the effort produces.  Learning feels slower from this kind of practice, and you don’t get the rapid improvements and affirmation you’re accustomed to seeing from massed practice.”

 

We Need Your Help Coaches…

Let’s get back to Coach Brian’s email from earlier, in this coaching youth baseball post.  How can you help coach out?  What are you currently doing that uses some or most of the above principles with your hitters at practice.  For those with “weather disabilities”, and time constraints, what are you doing in small spaces to keep practices efficient and effective?

Please share your coaching youth baseball (or fastpitch) experiments below (THANKS in advance for sharing!).  Please leave a Reply below…

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Baseball Hitting Case Study: Cole Watts – 17-years-old

 

Baseball Hitting Case Study: Cole Watts

Baseball hitting case study: Cole Watts Fight Position comparision

Cole’s dad Matt contacted me about setting up two in-person 45-minute lessons with a break between.  They were coming from the Bay Area, which is about a 2.5 hours drive from me.  Cole  had been getting instruction from a Mike Epstein certified instructor, and they both have been following my video blog.

According to dad, Cole’s results were hitting the ball hard into the ground, and at-best, a low level line drive.  In Cole’s baseball hitting case study, we’ll analyze:

  • Challenges faced,
  • Differences achieved after two sessions, and
  • How we trained

 

 Challenges Faced…

First, Cole is tall, 6 foot, 3 inches, and growing.  Being so tall, a hitter like him will be facing a “pitch plane” dilemma.  CLICK HERE to watch video analysis comparing 6’3″ Adam Jones to 6’2″ Victor Martinez, and how to fix Jones’s above average strikeout and ground-ball percentages.

When I hear a player is taller and having trouble driving the ball consistently, I look at how efficient they’re getting the barrel level on a downward pitch plane.  Are they:

  1. Making an aggressive move towards the pitcher (Un-weighting Principal)?
  2. Getting shorter (or lower) in the Fight Position (using Gravitational Forces)?
  3. Staying short through impact and finish (Adam Jones’s problem)?  And, are they
  4. Loading the spring correctly?

 

Differences Achieved AFTER Two Sessions

After our baseball hitting sessions, here’s where Cole made some changes:

  1. Gaining stride distance – committing body weight to front leg,
  2. Getting lower into Fight Position – flexing front knee more at landing,
  3. Body lag – opening lower half at Fight Position & blocking his shoulders.

Benefits…#1 will give Cole more bat speed and allow his head to stay still during the Final Turn.  #2 will empower Gravitational Forces to amplify Cole’s pelvic turn.  #3 will naturally spring load his body (body lag) to transfer more energy into the baseball.  The one thing we weren’t able to fix – in our short time together – was staying shorter through his impact and finish.

 

How We Trained…

How we train is just as important as what we’re training…if not more!  At the end of our baseball hitting sessions, our 5-swing rounds consisted of training one mechanical variable with three mechanical constants.  Defined…

  • Mechanical Variable – if we’re working “showing the numbers”, then on odd swings 1, 3, and 5 we show the numbers.  On swings 2 & 4 we don’t.
  • Mechanical Constant – if we’re working on “showing the numbers”, then this is done on ALL 5 swings.

I call each mechanical piece, a layer.  We start simple with one layer, which by itself becomes a variable.  As we add another layer, then the old one becomes a constant, while the one added is the next variable.  This is called interleaving.  Only one variable layer at a time.  The rest will be constants.  Here were his layers, using the fine Art of Variance:

  • Stretching his stride out beyond his “gamer” front marker,
  • Landing shorter with committed body-weight,
  • “Flashlight” on middle front thigh, open towards the pitcher,
  • Showing (or “blocking”) his numbers longer.

We sandwich the wrong mechanic with the right one, so the brain can note the difference.  If Cole wanted repeatable power, then hitting “tall” on the pitch plane wouldn’t work.  He made so much progress in a short amount of time.  Keep working hard kid!

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

In the Final PART 3 How To Run Faster: Agility Training Video Series,

How To Run Faster: Agility Training…I bring you on a nickel tour of what I use to hammer speed and agility training into my baseball athletes. In a Step-By-Step breakdown of speed mechanics, here’s some of what Jim Kielbaso and the IYCA covers in the Course:

  • Arm Action
  • Lower Body Mechanics
  • Backpedaling — breaking out of a backpedal, changing directions into a backpedal
  • Shuffling and Lateral Quickness
  • Crossover Running
  • And much more…

The Ultimate Speed Mechanics Course contains the exact same techniques Jim Kielbaso was brought in to teach the University of Kentucky Basketball team before their National Championship season in 2012.

Just as efficient hitting mechanics can overcome bigger more athletic body types, sprint mechanics can do the same.  Sure speed can be genetic, but it can also be taught and refined.  Jim does a great job in this field.  CLICK HERE to get more information on the Ultimate Speed Mechanics Course.

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

In The PART-1 How To Run Faster Video, You’ll Learn:

 

  • How Jim Kielbaso* teaches acceleration mechanics,
  • Coaching cues, and
  • How you can do this yourself.

How To Run Faster Video Secrets*Jim Kielbaso was brought on to teach the University of Kentucky Basketball team speed training and agility training before their National Championship season in 2012.

I’ve received quite a few emails about how to run faster…I’m not a “speed expert”, but I look to those who are and Jim Kielbaso’s Ultimate Speed Mechanics Course is it.  Mechanics is everything, and Jim backs all his stuff with REAL science.

 

Have you ever wondered what it is that separates the fastest, most agile athletes from all the rest?

While there are literally thousands of how-to run faster programs out there designed to get athletes bigger, stronger, and more powerful, very few of them are able to teach you how to lay a solid speed training and agility training foundation from which they can build upon.

With the Ultimate Speed Mechanics Course, you finally have a tool that will help develop the fundamental movement skills your athletes need in order to develop them into the quickest and most agile athletes they can be!

CLICK HERE to get more information on the Ultimate Speed Mechanics Course.

Check out PART 2 on how-to run faster: speed training & agility training as we look at one of the best drills for practicing what Jim talked about in this video…