In the previous articles we addressed the spine and the muscles surrounding the spine. I have touched on how to reduce spine viscosity and strengthen the back extensor muscles. In this article I will go over how to strengthen the rectus abdominis while maintaining good spinal position.
The McGill curl up is performed lying on the back with one leg extended and one leg in 90 degrees of flexion. The hands should be placed under the low back to help maintain the natural curve (lordosis) of the low back. To initiate the movement you will raise your shoulders off the ground maintaining the lordosis of the low back and keeping the head and neck in a straight line. Holding the position for 5 to 10 seconds you will want to maintain a strong contraction of the abdominal muscles. After 5 to 10 seconds you will lower back down to the ground and then repeat the movement.
To progress the curl up you can increase the repetitions as I wrote about in the previous article, and/or you can increase the difficulty by raising the elbows slightly off the ground as you are raising you head, neck, and chest. Another option that will make the exercise even more challenging is to put an AbMat under the low back and extend the arms out in line with your ears to increase the lever arm of the exercise. Just like the bird dog you will want to increase the amount of reps keeping the time between 5 to 10 seconds.
The final article of this series will go over the side plank and how to strengthen the transversus abdominis and the quadratus lumborum.
There are many variations to exercises you can do to get great results and change up the programming to make it continually interesting. The great thing about movements is we can alter 1 thing without really adding any modalities like heavier weight, bands, chains, vests or anything. That one thing is Time Under Tensions (TUT). Time under tension is how long the muscle you are working stays under tension. This is also known as Tempo.
During our FTT classes the intensity is based on 3 main factors:
As we look at time, time is how long you may have to finish a movement and can last anywhere with our workouts from 20 seconds to 2:30 seconds depending on the phase and what day. Time can be important in how many reps you can get in within that time.
Weight or modality refers too how much weight you may be utilizing or what modality you may be using like a band, trx or med ball. These weights and modalities will be directly proportional to how many reps you can get because of the intensity in which you do the movement in with the weight or modality.
Repetitions refers to how many times you do the movement in the time given. Reps are crucial in determining the goal of the program. For instance if you have 40s to do a movement and you get 8 reps in, you will be working the muscle in more of the strength side of the program, however, if you do 20 reps you are working in muscle endurance.
So what does this have to do with time under tension, well if you want to increase muscle strength and do so in which ever modality, time constraint or rep range you can put your muscles in more tension by slowing the movement down. Typically a rep will consist of 3 seconds down 0 on the bottom and 1 seconds up. For example your push up will be 3 seconds to the floor, no time on the bottom and then 1 second to the beginning position (3-0-1). This puts the muscle at consistent tension. Now you can manipulate this to increase the intensity. Here are some more examples:
Understanding how you can manipulate your sets and reps without always utilizing more weight or modalities can make working our interesting and a way to make awesome gains.
In the last article we talked about the muscles surrounding the spine and how to decrease the spinal viscosity. Remember that the spine is a robust system that can withstand quite a bit of force. Once you have performed the 6 to 10 reps of cat/cows you will want to move onto birddogs. The bird dog is a great exercise to strengthen the spinal erectors and the multifidus.
Before I go over how to properly perform the bird dog, I want to touch on how the spinal erectors and multifidus work. These muscles are primarily made up of Type one muscle fibers. This means that they are endurance muscles. They are highly oxygenated and can fire for a long time at low muscular forces. Not only does the bird dog train the back extensor muscles, but it will also teach you to learn to move through the hips and shoulders while stabilizing the back. So, when training these muscles we will want to perform repetitions for time.
To perform the bird dog you will want to stay in quadruped. The same as if you were performing the cat/cow. The movement is initiated by simultaneously extending the arm and opposite leg. The leg and arm should be extending to hip and shoulder height respectively. The position should be held for 5 to 10 seconds. Then bring the arm and leg down and extend them back out as soon as the arm and leg reach their beginning point. The bird dog can be performed for as many reps as necessary for your fitness level on one side. Then perform the same amount of reps on the opposite side.
If the bird dog becomes too easy then you will want to increase the amount of reps, however you don’t necessarily want to increase the time of each rep. Once you reach 10 seconds your muscles have become deoxygenated. By relaxing the muscles just enough to bring them back to neutral you allow them to become oxygenated again and able to perform another rep. To increase the difficulty you can perform 10 repetitions for 10 seconds each accumulating 100 seconds for that set.
In the next article we will go over the second exercise of the McGill big 3, the McGill curl up. The McGill curl up is a great way to strengthen the antagonist muscles of the back extensors, the rectus abdominis.
By Tyler Stewart
We all know that velocity for any pitcher is acquired with a strong lower body. Strength training for pitchers goes far beyond the old squat, leg press and leg extensions. Today’s pitcher gets stronger by incorporating various movements and making adding movements like single leg strength training. This type of training is not only more applicable for the pitcher but helps increase velocity and decrease injury. In this post were going to give you the top 5 lower body strength exercises a pitcher can implement right now.
1. Hex Bar Deadlift - This variation of the conventional Deadlift is crucial for building a strong athletes. Pitchers specifically can benefit from this because the distribution on the hex bar makes it more safe and easier to load heavier. Using the hex bar puts the athlete in a great position to gain strength bilaterally while keeping the back safe.
2.Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (RFESS) - This exercise takes on a new meaning when talking about strength training for pitchers. We know that the pitcher needs to be able to transfer his power from one hip throughout the body to the front leg. This transfer needs to be worked on by each leg individually. Suspending the back leg is great because it takes the one leg out of the equation. As opposed to a lunge or split squat, were the athlete can accommodate, this movement forces the athlete to drive through the single leg being used. This is also great for balance and many variations can be used in this movement. From posting of the dumbbells, to barbells being used and using tempo to change up and focus on what the athlete needs.
3.Hip Lift Variation - having your posterior chain strong is needed for all baseball players but specifically pitchers. Not only during recruitment of the lower chain to gain power but also in the deceleration of the throw and the weight bearing generally put on the front leg during that movement. Also the hip lift will strengthen the lower back is important for all athletes. Many variations can be used from eccentric training to loaded barbells.
4.Single Leg Deadlift (SLDL) - The sldl is a great lift for the posterior chain. Working on strengthening the hamstrings while also working on balance is a great bang for your buck. The posterior chain is an essential component for a pitchers deceleration post pitch. The balance aspect as you can imagine if important for loading the back hip for the pitcher and then the transfer of energy from the back to the front hip during the throw. This is an essential lift needed to be done by any pitcher. There are many variations to this movement as well.
5.Depth Jumps - Plyometrics or jump training is crucial for power development. With the lack of Olympic lifting for pitchers, this takes the place. The most important aspect of plyometric jumping that will have the best results is depth jumps. Depth jumps requires the athlete to stand on a 6 inch box step down and jump to another box approximately 24 inches high. The reason why depth jumps are the best is because it requires the athlete to land, create force and re apply the force from the ground and land on the box. The time in between the first box and the second box is the determining factor of becoming explosive. This is why this is a great exercise for pitchers. Teaching the body to create and transfer force is just like recruiting your power for any pitch and transferring that power through the ball to the plate.
6.Lateral Lunges-These lunges are important in strengthening your adductors which is important for pitchers. Also getting the athlete into another plane of movement like the frontal plane will also help with mobility and stability of the lower body. There are many variations to do with this exercise, the key is not to overload this too fast, meaning do not add a lot of weight right away. Athletes who tend to add tons of weight quickly sacrifice the benefits mentioned above. Since pitchers move in many planes of motion this is a great exercise to add to your program.
7.Lateral bounds - For pitchers in the stretch, learning how to gain as much power from the back leg is important to maintaining their power output. Lateral bounds create such power. By loading the hip and pressing off the ground explosively, the athlete learns not only to recruit power, but also learn how to deliver power or transfer power. The lateral bound is also great for balance and learning how to decelerate, which is key post pitch.
These 7 strength exercises if implemented will have a profound affect in your velocity, decrease in lower body injuries and an overall improvement in performance. There are many variations to each exercise and should be progressed properly. When done correctly, the benefits will be seen immediately.
Low back pain effects 80% of Americans and will cost the United States over $100 billion dollars annually! So, what can we do to help prevent this costly condition. The most effective way to avoid low back pain is to create stability around the spine. The muscles that stabilize the spine include the multifidus, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, rectus abdominis, and the transvers abdominis. These muscles make up, what is commonly referred to as, the “core”. The exercises we will be covering are the McGill big 3. These include the bird dog, the McGill Curl up and the side plank.
To prepare our spines for the following exercises we first want to decrease spine viscosity. Decreasing spine viscosity means we are decreasing the amount of friction between each vertebral disc. The way we can do this is by performing the cat/cow. The cat/cow is performed in quadruped or on all fours. The movement involves performing spine flexion while tucking the chin until you reach a comfortable maximum distance. Then you reverse the movement into extension while raising the head to comfortable distance. You will want to perform 6-10 reps in just one set. Research shows that this is enough to decrease the viscosity of the spine and that once we reach this point there won’t be any noticeable significant change.
In the next article we will address the bird dog, as well as the best way to perform and program for low back pain prevention.
On a final note, I would like to take the time to address a common misconception about the low back. There is quite a bit of fear mongering about how easy it is to “slip a disc” or cause a herniation. The spine is extremely robust and able to withstand quite a bit of force. While we want to improve the strength and resiliency of the spine I want people to realize that you have the tools and ability to keep your back healthy and strong.
Tyler Stewart is a physical therapy student at the University of Missouri School of Health Professions. He is also a certified strength and conditioning coach who has ran facilities in both the sports performance world and the adult fitness world. Tyler plans on opening a cashed base facility focusing in fitness and physical therapy making it affordable for everyone to get the benefits of exercise and wellness.
The box jump is a staple in plyometric or jump training for every athlete. While many consider the box jump a great indication of power because of the height of the box, the box jump is actually a greater indication of landing and injury prevention. The reason for this is because we want to be able to land for a position of height, many injuries occur not in the jump phase but landing phase and the box jump is designed to work on learning how to control impact from a jump, learning how to land properly and finally absorption of landing.
Couple myths about box jumping
The higher the box does not mean the higher you can jump. Essentially the box height is relative to your shin height, you do not have to jump high to get the benefits of power training. The power aspect is from the beginning position when your hands are back as pictured above to the transition from the floor to the box. The power is just like the kettlebell swing all hip drive.
Many people are scared about the landing. The trick of the landing part is land how you start. In the picture above you see that he lands a little taller, that is fine, the old adage of landing low is wrong as that puts a stress on the knee joint, you want to land firm and with a slight knee bend for absorption. This way the body is absorbing the landing and you will have less chance at injury.
The last key is how to get off the box, you want to step down. Most injuries happen when the client jumps down off of a box, the body is not meant to absorb moving backwards especially from a height. The knee is in a bad position. So even if we are doing timed movements step off the box it will save you a trip to the doctor.
The box jump is important for many reasons, while power production is seen from the jumping aspect, the box itself is designed for landing mechanics and working on injury prevention. Coaching the box jump and watching athletes perform it is a great evaluation tool we use daily making sure the athlete is ready for other heavy power movements, like hurdle jumping.
Every athlete wants to become faster and quicker. At Primetime Sports Performance, we understand that the athlete needs to have a quicker first step, a more explosive 10-yard dash and better finishing speed. In this article you will learn what 5 things you can implement today to increase your speed and increase your power to become faster!
These 5 quick tips will help any athlete looking to gain power, speed and quickness. Don’t hesitate to call Primetime Sports Performance with any questions on how to further your athletic ability. These drills above are a staple in our base programming and as helped thousands of athletes become faster and stronger.
There are many ways to write programs in the field of strength and conditioning. But here at Deluca’s and what I have done with The Edge is a simple process and one that has been proven to work based on science and research methods. Below is an outline of what I look for when writing programs.
Who am I training is a question you need to find out. Are they young, older, do they have a maturity issue. These all play a huge role in developing a program base.
What sports are they preparing for is something you need to know it creates a needs analysis, which is needed to create a program for them. You need to know the sports movement, conditioning needs and what type of system are they using as far as muscles are concerned.
How long do they have to train per session? We obviously do not need 3 hour sessions but realistically how long do they have to workout per session. Are they available for the 1-2 hours or are they tight on schedule because of school, club season or something else.
What is their training age? Have they lifted or participated in sports performance classes before? Are they new to this? Training age is a big factor and determines what you can put them through based on their training ability not their actual age.
Are they in season, out of season or in club season? There are many sports that involved off-season programs that have club seasons attached. Basketball, Hockey, Soccer, Volleyball and sometimes Baseball depending on location. But we need to know this because of stress levels and possibility of over training the system.
Are they coming to you in injured or off an injury recently? This by far is a huge question and needs to be answered honestly by the athlete. If they are healthy move on to programming if not we need to step back and review the injury, the mechanism of injury and also if they went to rehab and are allowed to participate.
What is their big goal vs. what they need? Sometimes that is different and needs to be challenged. If they want to put on size but don’t need to then you have to explain to them what is best for them. This has to be addressed prior to program writing.
Answering these 7 questions will lead you into a proper mindset to write or begin writing a program for them. Based on answers above you can delve into the following:
These steps will put you on the right track for a great start to a great program.