tannerwbatten@gmail.com
10:44 AM

Micronutrients for Athletes

In the last two articles we discussed the basics of energy balance, caloric intake, and ideal macronutrient ratios for different goals.  If you haven’t read them already you can check them out; The Calorie and Energy Balance Relationship, Demystifying Macronutrients.  Once calories and macros are set for your goals, you will want to take a look at micronutrient consumption.  Rather than break down every detail of where each vitamin and mineral is found and what they do in the body, let's focus on what athletes should know about micronutrients. 

Why do we need them?
They are Essential. Although they do not provide energy, vitamins and minerals are necessary for our survival.  They are compounds that our bodies cannot get without food.  They are active in nearly every physiological process and help keep us healthy. For example, vitamins are crucial for growth and immunity, while minerals help build our bones and teeth.  Without micronutrients our bodies would not be able to utilize the energy we consume through food. Too little or too much of one can inhibit fat loss, and leave you sick and rundown.

How much do we need?
Athletes Need More of Them. Many factors determine someone’s micronutrient needs, but one of the most important is their activity level and intensity.  Activity level and intensity not only dictates a person’s caloric needs, but their micronutrient needs as well.  Athletes who regularly engage in intense exercise (Team Training or Personal Training session) need more calories, and in turn micronutrients, than someone who is sedentary.  Without adequate nutrition to support their training, an athlete won’t be able to recover in between training sessions.   

Where do they come from?
They Are Best From a Variety of Whole Food Sources. With higher caloric needs it is easy to turn to bars, powders, and supplements to meet energy needs.  These may meet your calorie goals, but will leave you lacking in vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are best absorbed and utilized when consumed through REAL food.  Whole food sources have been minimally processed and are as close as possible to their natural state.  The more refinement or processing a food has to go through, the more micronutrients it will lose. This is why a whole grain such as quinoa will provide much more nutrition than bread or pasta that has been processed and had a few nutrients added back in.  Instead, choose colorful fruits and veggies. These are some of the most nutrient-dense foods and provide a lot of vitamins and minerals for very few calories. Shoot to eat a variety of colors to ensure you are getting all the micronutrients you need. 

Are supplements necessary?
Sometimes Supplementation is Necessary. Whole food sources may provide the most bang for your buck, but sometimes supplementation is necessary.  A few examples of this are: an athlete with a poor diet, a pregnant woman, a person with an injury or illness, or someone with a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency.  All of these people could benefit from supplementation.  Many athletes fall into the first category and simply struggle to get all they need through their diet.  This is either because they eat too much of the same thing or simply don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables.  For these people a multivitamin can be a cheap and easy solution to a big problem.  Although it is not a magic bullet, it can help them feel better and eliminate any small deficiencies that may have been holding them back. 

At first glance, micronutrients can seem like a very complex topic. The good news is that a varied diet of whole foods will help you reach your body composition goals and meet your micronutrient needs.  If you want to take your nutrition to the next level or have questions about micronutrients, set up a nutrition consult at the front desk!

tannerwbatten@gmail.com
12:54 AM

The Deadlift – 3 Ways to Build More Strength

It’s no secret that the deadlift is my favorite exercise. It is one of the few movements that work the body head to toe.  It not only strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, but also taxes the upper body to a great extent.  The deadlift has some of the greatest carryover to everyday life as we are constantly picking things up and setting them down.  If done correctly, it can teach athletes how to properly brace and lift objects pain-free for a lifetime.  Since I always want to up my favorite lift, I have tried nearly everything to do so.  Here are the three exercises I consistently program for myself and my athletes:

1. Paused DeadLift

Regardless of the lift you want to improve, a pause can make you stronger in a hurry.  Although this sounds simple, it definitely won’t be easy.  Place that pause at the portion of the lift that you struggle with the most.  Do you struggle locking the bar out on a heavy deadlift? Well, let’s pause for 3 seconds right above your knees.  Can’t break the bar off the floor?  Let’s add that pause about 1” from the ground. 

A pause forces the athlete to swallow his pride, take some weight off the bar, and work on technique.  Another huge benefit of a pause is the increased time under tension.  You may be stuck on your deadlift because you have a underdeveloped muscle group.  A pause can help stimulate new muscle growth needed to help you smash through that next PR! After 4-6 weeks training with a paused variation, that bar should feel awfully light doing regular deadlifts.
2. Block Pull
Another great way to improve a lift is to shorten the range of motion and overload the movement.  The block pull accomplishes both of these goals.  Like a box squat, a block pull can help the athlete get the feel of heavier weight and overload their lagging muscle groups.  You will simply need to place the bar on 2-4” blocks (bumper plates work great too) and start pulling! This shortened range of motion will allow you to add more weight to the bar and really build confidence with the movement.  One word of caution though, this accessory exercise is made to assist your deadlift, not boost your ego.  Just like the paused deadlift, spend 4-6 weeks training the movement and then get back to deadlifting from the floor!

3. Hip Thrust
This last movement is definitely underrated in its ability to develop an athlete.  First and foremost, maybe you are reading this and can’t safely deadlift due to a nagging injury or chronic pain.  If this is the case, the hip thrust is the exercise for you! It effectively takes the lower back out of the equation and will allow most trainees to work their lower body pain-free.  Even if you don’t have any kind of injury, it would benefit you to take some stress of your lower back and train the hip thrust.  Rotating movements will help you stay healthy long-term and eliminate staleness in training.  Whether you will be using this exercise in lieu of the deadlift or simply adding it to your program, I guarantee it will benefit your deadlift in the long term.  
All in all, the deadlift is a fantastic exercise to develop total body strength.  If you’re a beginner, you probably just need to deadlift more and practice your technique.  If you’ve been at this for a while now and your strength has plateaued, give these exercises a try! As always, if you are looking to prioritize strength work with a full-body training program, sign up for Personal Training! Not only will you get to use many of these exercises, but you’ll also get some great coaching along the way.   



Joey Wolfe
2:16 PM

Demystifying Macronutrients

Energy Sources That Fuel Your Body

Written by Tanner Batten

In the previous nutrition blog we dove deep into the world of calories, the base of the nutritional pyramid, and why they ultimately dictate whether or not we move towards our goals. If calories aren’t in check then it won’t matter what cutting edge nutrition tips you’re applying or what supplements you take.  If you haven’t read this piece yet, you can check it out, The Calorie and Energy Balance Relationship.  The next most important nutritional principle is, macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) composition. This is a topic that many athletes are curious about.  Most people generally understand the breakdown of calories and the principle of energy balance, but there is much confusion surrounding macronutrients and optimal ratios of each one.  The 3 macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  Carbohydrates and protein each contain 4 calories per gram, while fat contains 9 calories per gram.  A balance of all 3 is essential for high-level health and performance. For the sake of this article I have made general recommendations for muscle gain, weight maintenance, and weight loss, but first, let's get a basic understanding of each macronutrient.
 
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of protein or carbohydrates = 4 calories

Protein is the most talked about macronutrient in the health and fitness world. Simply put, protein helps you build muscle, recover from workouts, and keeps you feeling full.  This is why I believe it to be the most important macronutrient.  Every time you eat, you should be trying to include a protein source. Each meal, snack, or craving should be built around at least 10-15g of protein, with more coming at main meals.  This will ensure you've satisfied your hunger and have everything you need to rebuild and repair your body after training hard.  Those who center each meal around a protein source (think, chicken, ground turkey, lean ground beef, etc.) will generally consume fewer calories because it's hard to overeat a good, lean protein source.

Carbohydrates are by far the least understood macronutrient.  In today’s world they are often touted as the enemy of healthy eating.  As a result, athletes often limit or avoid them completely.  What many people don’t realize is that they provide your body with the best source of quick and efficient energy.  Athletes need carbs! With that being said, issues begin to arise when carbohydrate intake doesn’t match activity level.  Unfortunately many people eat like an endurance athlete and train like a coach potato.  An easy lesson I try to teach athletes is to “earn your carbs!”  Crushed a workout and went on a walk at lunch? Go ahead and have some brown rice or sweet potatoes for dinner.  Not able to make it into the gym?  Try and base most of your meals on protein, fats, and veggies.  Athletes should match their carb intake to their activity level.  So next time you reach for a carb source  ask yourself, “did I earn this today?”

The final macronutrient is fat.  Fats have received a bad rap over the years, but they are also an essential part of any athlete’s nutrition plan.  Fats provide insulation for your organs, maintain cell membrane health, and help your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Like carbs, fats are not the enemy, rather poor fat choices are.  I encourage athletes to get more calories from unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil) than saturated fats (butter, ice cream, sour cream). Like protein, fat also helps to provide you with energy for long periods of time.  One thing to note is that fat adds up quickly.  At 9 calories per gram, a handful of nuts or “splash” of olive oil can easily be hundreds of calories.  Be diligent about monitoring your serving sizes to ensure you aren’t getting too much.    

1 gram of fat = 9 calories
 
Now that you have a basic understanding of each macronutrient, let’s break down what a balanced nutrition plan looks like for a few different goals.  Regardless of your goal, protein should stay consistently high.  I generally recommend consuming,

1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight.

Example: For a 200lb man with 20% body fat, that would equate to (200 lbs total weight – 40 pounds body fat) 160g of protein or (160g protein x 4) 640 calories per day. 

If you don’t know your body composition, it's a good time to sign up for our next DEXA Scan (February 18th)! While protein intake is locked in, carbs and fat can be manipulated based on whether you are looking to lose weight, build muscle, or maintain your weight. 

Weight Loss: Total calories will be low for athletes looking to lose body fat.  Using our same 200lb man, let’s say he wants to create a small caloric deficit and eat around 2400 calories per day (Body weight X 12).  In order to preserve his muscle mass he will want to keep protein intake high. Fats will also remain relatively high to keep him full while he is eating fewer total calories.  As a result, the main adjustment in calories will be from carbohydrates.  He will want to make sure to eat enough carbs to fuel his workouts, while staying under his daily calorie goal.  The table below gives you an idea of what the macronutrient ratio may look like for Weight Loss. 

Muscle Gain: Let’s say you want to spend some time building some quality lean tissue.  This will help raise your resting metabolism and improve your strength levels.  Here our 200lb man may want to shoot for around 3000 calories  (Body Weight X 15) to lead to slow and steady weight gain.  Adjusting those ratios to include more protein, more carbs and less fat will help give him the energy he needs to train harder and recover better.  Again the table below shows what the breakdown of each macronutrient would look like. 

Maintenance: Maintenance is the easiest goal to shoot for because it’s somewhere in the middle of the two.  Caloric intake and macronutrient ratios will be moderate. Our 200lb man should shoot to eat around 2600 (Bodyweight X 13) calories and keep protein high.  Check the table below for ideal ratios to maintain weight. 

Example: For a 200lb man,
  MUSCLE GAIN MAINTENANCE WEIGHT LOSS
Calories 3,000 per day 2,600 per day 2,400 per day
Protein 225g   (30%) 162g   (25%) 160g   (25%)
Carbohydrate 375g   (50-60%) 325g   (50%) 260g   (45%)
Fat   83g   (20-25%)   72g   (25%)   80g   (30%)
Note: Percentages are relative to calories per day (i.e., 30% calories per day = 225g Protein for Muscle Gain).

Keep in mind that these are simply guidelines to help get you started towards your goals.  Our bodies aren’t perfect mathematical equations and we may need to adjust these guidelines based on age, gender, body type, and activity level. Some athletes love tracking their food intake and knowing the data and numbers, while others can get their desired results by simply improving food quality and eating a little more or a little less depending on the goal.  If in doubt, try to make better food choices and eat mindfully.  Remember, even the perfect macronutrient ratio won’t be effective if total calories are too high or too low. If you have questions or want specific guidelines for you and your goals, schedule a nutrition consult at the front desk!




Joey Wolfe
5:04 PM

The Pull Up

Written by Tanner Batten

With the New Year rolling around, people begin to look inward and ask themselves what they want to accomplish over the next 365 days.  Some of these goals are work related, some are family related, and others are training related.  One of the most common training goals I hear from athletes is the desire to improve their pull-up ability.  Whether they are working towards their first bodyweight pull-up or trying to hit 20 in a row, they will need a specific plan to get there! 

Although the Bench Press is often touted as the “king of upper body exercises” I would argue that, for an athlete, their ability to do a pull-up is even more important. This exercise provides the ultimate test of relative upper body strength. Sure, a big bench press is a great bragging point, but any athlete who has mastered the strict pull-up has far more functional and impressive upper body strength.  

The Pull-up should be a staple in any athlete’s training program. Aside from being a great upper back and arm builder, it doubles as an amazing core exercise. It also aids in strengthening muscles crucial for posture and shoulder health.  A pull-up will also motivate you to keep your body composition in check.  Those Holiday goodies will quickly inhibit your ability to do a pull-up if you gain 10lbs. 

Regardless of an athlete’s main goal (fat loss, muscle gain, improved sports performance) pull-ups should be a part of their training program.  That is why we have made them a central category in the Leaderboard Standards.  We believe high-level athletes should be able to crush pull-ups, and lots of them!

So what if you can’t yet do a pull-up? You can dedicate your next training year to doing just that! The Leaderboard Standard progressions are made to start with the basics and help you work your way to the top! I start all athletes with a TRX Suspension Trainer.  This equipment allows you to do both a TRX Row and TRX Pull-up. These exercises strengthen many of the muscles used in a pull-up and allow the athlete to easily progress or regress by adjusting body angle.  

This is why the Novice Level on the Leaderboard Testing Standards starts with 10 TRX Rows. Once an athlete has mastered this exercise and can do 10 with their body parallel to the ground, she will progress to a band-assisted pull-up.  The band will simply give the extra assistance needed to lift your chin all the way over the bar.  This has the greatest carryover to a pull-up and helps athletes perfect their form; working towards crushing that first unassisted pull-up. Once an athlete can execute 10 pull-ups with a band they have reached the Intermediate Level. From here we can work towards a higher number of unassisted pull-ups. What if you can already do 10 perfect Pull-ups? Then, let’s start adding some weight to help you reach the Elite level.   

All in all, the Pull-up is a fantastic movement that every athlete should be doing.  It can be very humbling at times, but there is place to start no matter where you are at today! Feel like you’ve been stuck on your pull-ups for a long time? Try one of our personal training sessions.  Each training day is Leaderboard focused (that means pull-ups!) and individualized to exactly the progression you need.  With great coaching and intelligent programming we can help you improve in the areas you need the most!

Joey Wolfe
9:12 PM

The Calorie and Energy Balance Relationship

August 2016 - Tanner Batten

We’ve all heard it before, “All you need to do to lose that weight is eat less and move more.”  This refers to the most basic of all nutritional principles: Energy Balance.  

Energy Balance = Caloric intake (food and drink consumption) & Caloric expenditure (exercise)

Although outside factors (digestion, hormones, etc.) can affect it, Energy Balance is the guiding principle on whether we will lose or gain weight.  So, if everyone knows this basic principle, then WHY do we still struggle to reach our goal weight or body fat percentage?

Let's consider some factors that may be affecting our efforts,

How many calories do you need?
A:  Caloric need is dependent on age, gender, activity level and personal goals. For weight maintenance, a good place to start is by multiplying Body Weight x 13.

Example: The Caloric Need for a 200lb Male looking to maintain his weight is 
(200lb x 13) = 2,600 Calories per day

Maintenance Goal (Body Weight x 13) = 2,600 Calories per day
Weight Loss Goal (Body Weight x 12) = 2,400 Calories per day;
a 200 Calorie per day deficit
 
To begin, these simple coefficients and a small amount of trial and error should move you in the direction of your goals.  If not, simply make an adjustment up or down in calories, track your progress and evaluate your results.  Remember, just because a 200 calorie deficit is good, does not mean that a 1000 calorie deficit will be better. Be sure to set up a nutrition consult if you have more questions!

How much do I really eat and drink?
A: Most of us have absolutely no idea how many calories we consume. An easy way to better understand your caloric intake is to fill out a 3-day food log.

For this you will need to write down everything you eat or drink for a 3-day period. Read nutrition labels, weigh your food, and find out the truth of how much you are really consuming.  Don’t forget to count calories from condiments, salad dressings, vegetables, and cooking oils!

This is where many people miss the mark and yet, it is relatively easy area to evaluate and make adjustments. It is easy to underestimate our consumption. Some people have been blown-away by missing their intake by over 1000 calories!

How much exercise do I get?
A: In order to accurately measure your caloric expenditure (burn), a measurement device needs to account for your age, weight and heart rate. That's why we love our MyZone Heart Rate monitoring system; it captures all of these factors. Tracking and measuring caloric burn is key to helping you achieve your goals. 

If you burn 1000 calories in a workout is the goal to immediately go home and eat more than that? I like to think of training sessions as 'icing on the cake'.  If you want to lose weight, try to create a deficit through consuming fewer calories, and then any exercise you get will simply help you reach your goals faster! Eat to match your goals and exercise to be stronger and healthier. 

All in all, calories dictate our overall energy balance. Other parts of the pyramid are important, but it would be foolish to ignore the base! Try using these three points to examine your own lifestyle and see where you could make improvements.  Remember, you don’t need to count every calorie you eat for the rest of your life, but taking the time to take a good look at what you’re eating can benefit every athlete.

Joey Wolfe
11:55 PM

Training A Champion

When I was a young boy I used to love watching movies like Rocky, Bloodsport, and Kickboxer. Other than the legendary fight scenes at the end of the movie, the training montages were always my favorite part. I found them to be very inspiring. I liked to see the fighters put themselves through hell, to ensure that they would be ready for whatever came their way. Of course this is just Hollywood. Real life isn’t really like this. Or is it?

For the past 16 weeks, I’ve had the great fortune to train the number one UFC Middleweight contender, Luke Rockhold. I met Luke in March, a month before his bout with Lyoto Machida. After a dominant performance defeating Machida, Luke earned a title shot against current UFC Middleweight Title Holder, Chris Weidman. Luke is scheduled to fight Weidman tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV.

Luke came to me because he wanted to improve his strength, agility and footwork.  I happily obliged.  Luke trains with one of the best camps in the world, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA).  The work we did together was only going to compliment what he was already doing with AKA.  My job was clear, help Luke get stronger and quicker.  But more importantly, don’t break his body down anymore than he already has. 

Training a fighter is tough. There are so many unpredictable variables that make my job challenging; bruised hands, stingers, low energy due to cutting weight, an erratic travel schedule due to fight promotions. The list goes on.  The communication between fighter and coach becomes crucial. I’ve never worked with someone that is more in tune with their body than Luke. He knows when we can push and when we need to back off.

For the past 27 weeks, since the UFC announced that Luke would be taking on Weidman, this has been all consuming for him.  His training, diet, sleep, recovery, EVERYTHING has to be managed, in preparation for what could potentially be a 30 second battle.  This is something that most of us can’t even fathom.  To dedicate everything you have, and to step into an octagon to go to battle with another human being. Crazy!

As a coach, I’m constantly reminding our youth athletes that it is not the outcome that matters. It is the process and the journey that matters most.  Luke’s life-long journey to this point has been filled with highs and lows.  He has subjected his body to the same hell I used to admire as a kid when watching those epic movies.  My hope for him is that tonight he will be victorious. That he will hold that belt that he has worked so hard for, above his head and claim victory. However, if that doesn’t happen he is already a champion in my mind because I’ve seen his journey and it hasn’t been an easy one. 

Good luck tonight Luke. The Paradigm Sport Community will be with you. 

Joey

Joey Wolfe
4:07 PM

Ankle, Hip and Thoracic Mobility for Catchers

One of the biggest challenges for young players is being able to make adjustments to their swing, throwing mechanics, running mechanics, etc.  Sometimes mental barriers get in the way of making the adjustment, yet often times it is a physical limitation; more specifically a mobility, stability or sequencing issue. As a coach it can be very frustrating trying to get a player to make an adjustment to their mechanics that their body is simply unable to make.  A good coach will try to figure out another way to communicate the adjustment to the player.  A great coach will figure out where the problem lies.  This is where the strength & conditioning coaches come in.  Although most of us may not know what it means to beat the ball to the spot, all of us should have a good understanding of how to improve the mobility of our athletes.  It is this skill set that will directly affect the performance of our athletes.  

 

The main responsibility of any catcher is to catch the ball.  If a catcher cannot consistently catch the ball he will quickly find himself playing in the outfield.  A catcher has many responsibilities; handling the pitching staff, calling pitches, receiving, blocking, throwing; the list goes on. In order for a catcher to be successful they must first and foremost be comfortable.  Without the proper mobility the catching duties can quickly go from hard to impossible.  Here are the three areas that stand out as the limiting factors in regards to mobility for catchers.   

 

  • Limited ankle mobility:  It is imperative that a catcher has mobile ankles.  Having mobile ankles allows the catcher to comfortably get in a squatting position.  With nobody on base (primary stance) a catcher is generally going to sit into a deep, comfortable squat with the ankles slightly everted.  Stiff ankles have a tendency to put more stress on the hips.  Also, without ankle mobility a catcher’s ankle sway will be limited.  Ankle swaying is extremely important for catchers, especially at the lower levels because pitchers tend to lack command of their pitches.  Ankle swaying allows the catcher to get their nose and body in front of the ball without moving the receiving arm too much.  When there is a lot of movement with the receiving arm the pitch doesn’t look as good from the umpire’s vantage point.  Finally, if an ankle is locked up it will limit the catcher’s ability to get in the proper throwing position to deliver the ball to second base.  Although the movement may start at the hip, the ankle needs to have the appropriate amount of mobility to allow the ankle to externally rotate so the back foot can get in the correct position.  Here are some of our favorite ankle mobility exercises.  

 

Multiplanar Wall Ankle Mobilization

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEUcOHPFAMk

 

Ankle Inversion with Band

Sit with the band attached to your inside foot with a pad under calf so heel is off the ground.  Use only your ankle, pull toes to stretch the band shin and return to the starting position for prescribed number of repetitions.  Do not allow any movement throughout your leg or hip during the exercise.  There should be less motion moving your foot out than in.  This exercise will work the muscles in your lower leg and challenge the coordination in your ankle. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKSbaN2slkc

Ankle Eversion with Band

Sit perpendicular with a band attached to the outside of your foot.  Place a pad under your calf so the heel is off the ground.  Move your ankle away, stretching the band for the prescribed number of repetitions.  Do not allow any movement throughout your leg or hip during exercise.  There will be less motion moving your foot out than in.  Working the muscles in your low leg and challenging the coordination in your ankle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDehDpsNS5s

 

  • Poor thoracic mobility: It has been pretty well documented that limited shoulder mobility and/or thoracic extension will impede one's ability to get into the correct squatting position.  Well imagine trying to catch an Arlodis Chapman fastball or a Tim Collins curveball if you can’t get down in a comfortable squatting position; not fun.  Remember, the key to being a successful catcher is being comfortable.  The absence of thoracic mobility is highlighted when a catcher has to get down into their secondary stance (two strikes on the batter and/or a runner on base).  What you’ll find is a rounded upper back and shoulders that roll forward.  This creates three problems.  First, it makes for a smaller target for the pitcher.  Pitchers want a big target to throw to, not a small one. Therefore it is the catcher’s job to make himself look as big as possible.  Second, it limits the catcher’s ability to receive the ball comfortably from the pitcher.  Often times the catcher will feel “locked up” when they are unable to move freely through their t-spine.   A low and away curveball from a right-handed pitcher will give them fits and you can forget about a good right-handed two-seam fastball or filthy left-handed slider.  Basically any pitches that require the catcher to go get the ball will create challenges for a catcher that is tight in their t-spine.  Finally, when a mobility issue is present the lengthened muscles will serve to dissipate the force transfer from the ground and lead to slower feet.  This will make it near impossible to do anything quickly.  Whether it is going down to block a ball, throw a runner out or back up first base, being tight up top will effect what is going on down below.   Here are a few great exercises to help improve mobility in the t-spine. 

 

Thoracic Spine Mobility - Double Tennis Ball
Tape two tennis balls together to for a "peanut" shapeLie on your back with the balls under your spine just above your lower back and your hands behind your head. Perform 5 crunchesThen raise your arms over your chest and alternately reach over your head for 5 repetitions with each armMove the balls up your spine 1 to 2 inches and repeat the crunches and arm reachesContinue moving the balls up your spine until they are just above your shoulder blades and below the base of your neckDuring the crunches, try and "hinge" on the ball rather than rolling over itThink about keeping your ribs pushed down to the ground during the arm reaches, as if you were getting a deep massage in your mid to upper back.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM6INtrD7go

Side-Lying Extension-Rotation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9GSkvF8G9Q

 

Quadruped Extension-Rotation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy6vCuB8x6Q

 

 

  • Bad hip mobility: Last but certainly not least on the list of mobility restrictions is bad hip mobility.  Of the three limitations I have mentioned, this one may be the biggest culprit in young catchers today.  Given the number of hours kids spend sitting in class, watching T.V. and playing video games it comes as no surprise that their hip mobility is negatively effected.  Due to all of this sitting we often find that the catchers we work with lack internal rotation (internal rotation deficit), and are short/tight in their hip flexors and adductors.  Two of our favorite stretches to address an internal rotation deficit are the knee-to-knee stretch and the supine dynamic hip internal rotation stretch.  Allowing for more rotation in the hips is going to free the catcher to better perform the ankle sway, which really starts at the head of the femur.  That internal hip rotation gives the ankles and the rest of the body a better chance to get in front of the ball when receiving a pitch and also allows the feet to get in the proper position when throwing the ball.  When addressing the adductors, which is made up of the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, gracilis and pectineus, we are advocates of doing as much soft tissue work as one can stand.  It’s not easy to get in to all of these areas with a foam roll so often times we’ll have our clients use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball (if they can handle it).  After hammering these areas with some soft tissue work we’ll have our catchers do a few lengthening exercises.  A couple of our favorites are the Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Mobs and the Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch. When done right, both of these exercises emphasize the importance of hip mobility while maintaining core stability.  Here’s a look at some of these exercises. 

 

Lying Knee-to-Knee Mobilization 

As Eric mentioned a few weeks ago in his epic post 15 Static Stretching Mistakes, the lying knee-to-knee stretch can impose some valgus stress at the knees if it isn't coached/cued properly.  So, instead of thinking of letting the knees fall in, tell the athlete to actively internally rotate the femurs. The stretch should occur at the hips, not the knees.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kZHfbvHBno

 

Supine Dynamic Hip Internal Rotation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yn55lUlAMs4

 

Split-Stance Kneeling Adductor Mobs 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llmSOYBhlcM

 

Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch

Simple and easy way to stretch some of the tightest muscles in the body. Squeeze the glutes of the knee that is on the ground then push the hips forward. To progress raise your arms overhead.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iluzqLMLDUc

 

Generally speaking catchers are big guys, that for their size move free and easy; especially in the aforementioned areas.  Being a good catcher is more than just being big and strong.  It is about being big and strong while maintaining your mobility and flexibility.  Anyone can add size and strength, but if your movement is compromised in the process then it is almost certain that you will see a decrease in performance.  Spend some time doing these mobility exercises before, during (preferable) or after your workout for the next few weeks and see how much better your body feels.  Good luck! 

 

Closing Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2HBa3LFSNg

 


Joey Wolfe
10:56 AM

Cirque

About four or five years ago I was introduced to Cirque du Soleil.  I honestly can’t remember who it was that told me about it but they said that it was an incredible show and I should make it a point to get to one.  Well, two weeks ago I finally got a chance to take in a show. To say it was incredible would be a major understatement.

 

I’ve never seen such displays of athleticism in my life.  There were women riding unicycles while balancing miniature bowls on their heads.  Men and woman swinging on bars like Olympians.  Guys doing head stands on top of a poll 25 feet above the ground.  It was almost inconceivable, and if it weren’t happening right in front of my eyes I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

 

Given my sports background I’ve seen some pretty remarkable things. Alex Rios taking batting practice: impressive.  Delmon Young hitting three homeruns over the batter’s eye in two games: unbelievable. Just the day before I attended the Cirque du Soleil show in San Francisco I was working with one of my high school athletes who single leg-squatted 250 lbs.!  That is a ton of weight, especially for a high school athlete to be pushing around.  Moreover, it was an 18% increase from what he was doing 4 weeks prior to that day.

 

An athlete by definition is “a person that is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.”  I’ve always prided myself on being a good athlete, but when I was playing Minor League baseball, I was humbled.  I found out quickly that I wasn’t nearly as athletic as I thought I was.  In fact, I was probably one of the least athletic players in the organization.  It was that realization that motivated me to work harder and smarter than everyone else.

 

I meet with people everyday that are struggling with some kind of physical ailment.  Whether it’s back pain, shoulder pain, or sciatica; whatever the case, they have something that is limiting them. I am by no means devaluing these limitations. They are no fun and nobody wants to have to deal with them.  However, what I’ve noticed is that often time’s people experience these limitations due to a sedentary lifestyle.

 

In hindsight, it was this recognition that got me interested in strength training/personal training.  The idea that I could help people feel better, move better, look better and perform better seemed to me like a very rewarding profession.  I wasn’t wrong.  It’s been extremely gratifying thus far and every time I help clean up a clients movement pattern or help them exponentially improve their strength, it’s almost as enjoyable as making those improvements with my own body.

 

My take home from attending Cirque du Soleil was this: Human beings are much more capable than we think we are.  If we want to be healthy and remain healthy we have to take care of our body and keep it moving.  I’m not insinuating that we can go on tour with the Cirque du Soleil, but what I am saying is that we can sit comfortably in our chairs with the absence of pain while we watch in awe as some of the best athletes on the planet do what they do best: entertain us.

 

Enjoy the show!

 

Live Healthy. Live Happy.

 

Joey Wolfe

 

Check out the link below.  These are some of the highlights of the show I took in a few weeks ago.