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SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer: How-To Build A Swing You Can Be Proud Of…

 

Baseball Swing Trainer: SwingAway MVP

The SwingAway MVP Bryce Harper model

I’ve wanted to do a “how-to experiment” post for a long time.  But in the past, technology hadn’t quite caught up,

…and NOW it has!

Mark Twain once said:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I want:

  • …To lay out the landscape, in this Baseball Swing Trainer post, about using the SwingAway for conducting hitting experiments,
  • …This article to empower you to take up arms with me, and turn conventional hitting wisdom on its stubborn little head, and
  • …To inspire you to use modern technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

I’m embarrassed to share the following story…

I did my first hitting experiment in the sixth grade with a buddy, for a school project.

My friend and I ran an experiment to see if a wood or aluminum bat could hit the ball farther.

One day after school, we pitched to each other at the Little League diamond we played our games at.  We used two aluminum Easton baseball bats and a Ken Griffey Jr. signature Louisville Slugger woody.  One aluminum bat was 32-inches and 24-ounces, and the other was 31-inches and 23-ounces.  And I can’t remember what the woody measurements were, but it was comparable.

I think we might have hit about 50 balls with each bat (150 balls total), and get this…measured the distance with our feet! 😀 lol

Based on our results, guess which bat hit the ball the farthest?  Wood or aluminum?  The wood bat!!!  Waaa??

Well, it was only because we weren’t being very scientific with our scientific experiment.  One of the big reasons we didn’t get a good grade on the project was because we DID NOT isolate the variables

  • We threw LIVE batting practice to each other.  We should have used a baseball hitting trainer like a batting tee or SwingAway (wasn’t around at the time).
  • We both took turns hitting, and didn’t separate our individual batted ball distances.
  • We used different sized bats.
  • We measured using our own feet…I was a men’s 8/9 at the time, and my buddy was an 11. We should’ve used a rolling tape measure.
  • We only took a small data sample size. We should’ve hit 100 balls with the wood bat, and then 100 with aluminum.  AND we should have only used one of the aluminum bats (preferably the one closest in size and weight to the woody).  So 400 swings total (200 swings for me, 200 for my friend).  Then compared apples to apples.

Remember, failure is only a detour, not a dead end 😉

The good news is,

You don’t have to be a scientist to run a hitting experiment.

What follows is the exact formula I use now, to run my hitting experiments using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer.  My hopes is that you pick up arms, and join me in the fight…

 

The Definitive Guide to Conducting a Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment

Up until now, here are SIX hitting experiments I’ve run:

 

Equipment & Setup

You can read the full list at the above swing experiment links.  But here are a couple pieces of equipment that will have a drastic effect on bean counting and saving time doing the experiment itself…

Zepp Baseball App
Baseball Swing Trainer: Zepp Baseball App

Zepp Baseball App

Great tool for collecting data.  It’s not perfect, but all we need is an apples to apples comparison.  Unfortunately, the Zepp app DOES NOT allow you to separate experiment swings from recreational ones.  You have to delete ALL swings before doing an experiment, unless you want to do the bean counting yourself.

You’ll also need to create two email accounts with Zepp to separate the two experiment tests.  Zepp allows you to “Add a Hitter” in one account, but it doesn’t allow you to separate that data from other hitters or swings and average the data out.

SwingAway Baseball Swing Trainer
Baseball Swing Trainer: SwingAway Pro XXL

SwingAway Pro XXL model

I just started using a SwingAway for my swing experiments.  I used to hit the ball off an ATEC Tuffy Batting Tee, but it was taking me 2 1/2 to 3 hours to run my experiments.  Fatigue could set in and skew the results.  Some experiments where you’re looking at ball flight (like Bent Back Knee experiment above) will most definitely need to be done off a batting tee.

Using the SwingAway baseball swing trainer took me only 1 1/2 hours!  NO need for:

  • Ball cleanup,
  • Ball setup, or
  • Waiting more than a few seconds for the ball to return to its stationary position.

This saved me a ton of time.  All you need is a 10 X 10 space to conduct your SwingAway baseball swing trainer experiment.

Baseball Swing Trainer Experiment Optimization Tips…

  • Limit Variables – The main objective of a baseball swing trainer hitting Experiment, is to isolate what you’re trying to test.  Like my sixth grade experiment from earlier, there were too many variables that we didn’t control.
  • Priming the Pump – I always start an experiment by warming up my body with a pre-practice routine, similar to this Dr. Stanley Beekman’s post.  You don’t have to do all included exercises, so pick about eight of them.  I’ll also take about 10-15 swings focusing on the specific mechanic I’m going to be testing that day.  For example, if I was testing showing the pitcher my numbers versus not, then I’d do 10-15 swings both ways, so 20-30 swings total before officially starting the experiment.  We prime the pump so nobody can see, “Well, your numbers sucked in the beginning because you weren’t warmed up.”
  • Counter-Balancing – The two tests in the experiment should be counterbalanced.  Which consisted of eight blocks of 25-swings done in the following order ABBA BAAB.  Say “showing the numbers” was letter ‘A’, and “not showing the numbers” was letter ‘B’.  200 total swings are to be completed in the experiment, 100 per test.  Counter-balancing helps remove the “getting tired” and “not being warmed” up factors.
  • More Data Points – I take at least 100 swings for both tests in the experiment, so 200 swings total (not counting warm-up swings).  So, taking the “showing numbers” as an example, I’d take 100 swings showing my numbers, and then take another 100 swings not showing my numbers.  The Zepp App is a useful technology, but isn’t super accurate.  But the more data you collect, the closer to the “real” numbers you’ll get.
  • Break the Swing Apart – If you aren’t confident that you can repeat a specific mechanic consistently for 100 swings, then break the swing apart, like I talk about in this YouTube video.  I did this in the showing the numbers experiment above.
  • Collect Ball Flight Data (optional) – for some mechanics, like testing the back leg angle during the turn experiment, it’s critical to collect ball flight data on the Zepp app.  Zepp allows you to manually input where you hit the ball after each swing.  Testing the grip on the bat would be another example.  Also, adding Ball Exit Speed readings could enhance the baseball swing trainer experiment, Bushnell Velocity Radar Gun (about $80), or Stalker Radar Gun ($500+).  ESPN’s HitTrackerOnline.com uses the latter in all MLB ballparks.  Just remember, accuracy isn’t as important as an apples to apples comparison.
  • Recovery – I usually will give my body about 30-minutes rest between the first 100 swing test and the second.  I now use supplement timing like Zach Calhoon maps out in these posts.  I sip on Zach’s “concoction” throughout the full experiment to keep my muscles fueled.  I then take Vitamin C and E capsules afterward to help with soreness.
  • Brainstorming Experiments – Don’t have any ideas on what to test?  I did the heavy lifting for you.  And by no means is this an exhaustive list of possible experiments. CLICK HERE for my brainstormed list.
  • Take Notes – make note of my “notes” in the above experiments.  Basically, the notes section are things that you noticed while doing the tests that may not be apparent to the person reading about the experiment.

 

In Conclusion…

In this baseball swing trainer post about using the SwingAway for hitting experiments, I wanted to lay out the landscape and empower you to help me take up arms.  I want to turn conventional hitting wisdom on its head, and use modern baseball swing trainer technology to build a swing we ALL can be proud of.

Let’s revisit the Mark Twain quote from earlier:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

I need your help and can’t fight this fight alone.  I want you to take action…

My challenge to you is let’s band together and conduct 30 Experiments in the next 30 days.  If all of us do at least one swing experiment, then we should be able to knock this goal out by July 15th.

Just post your baseball/softball hitting experiment results below in the comments section.  Reply with:

  • What experiment you ran (from the brainstorm list above)?
  • How many swings per test (i.e. 100/100), and what order did you do the test?
  • What bat did you use (length, weight, and wood/aluminum)
  • Hit off tee or Swingaway baseball swing trainer?
  • What metric changes were significant (bat speed/hand speed/bat vertical angle at impact/attack angle/ball flight/ball exit speed)?

Thanks in advance for your baseball swing trainer experiment comments!

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 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.