There has been an uproar the past few days in the strength and conditioning industry about squatting. Reason being one of the biggest, most successful names in the industry, BU Hockey’s strength coach Michael Boyle, released a new DVD that dismisses the squat from his arsenal. For anyone interested here is the video Death of Squatting
Now single leg strength is in my opinion, one of the most overlooked aspects in training. Every sport except for rowing is preformed unilaterally. And for the people out there whom have never tried to do a one legged squat in any fashion (to a box or in a split stance as in the video) will realize that the stability aspect of a one legged squat is extremely humbling.
Boyle makes the point that the back is the weakest link when squatting, which I 100% agree on. That being said, the back will most likely be the first thing to give when performing squats, often leading to injury.
Now what do we do that the biggest name in our industry says don’t do it? Well with hopes that this will not black ball me from the industry, I believe we do both.
But why?! The goal in athletics is to produce as much force as possible in the shortest amount of time (see power). If a shot putter wants to improve in his event he will often squat because he must be able to transfer force from his feet to his upper body to increase the distance of the throw. And if his “core” musculature (lower back and abdominals) are the weakest link I believe he should train that weakest quality with the highest importance, don’t you think that may be what is holding him back?
As one coach questioned me recently, “Why have our players squat when they could just do a leg press and then planks if those exercises will work all the same muscles?”. The body was designed to work in unison and from a time standpoint why would you not want to get the most bang for you buck?
I am by no means a coach whom believes everyone should squat. Bad back, no way. Poor flexibility and mobility, no way. The risks are way to high to bother with an exercise that if preformed incorrectly can cause serious injury rather easily. In these circumstances I take advantage of the lower load options of single leg squats.
So there you have it, single leg squats are an amazing tool, but are not the end all be all in my book.
As many of you know, I am currently interning at Quinnipiac University with their head strength and conditioning coach Brijesh Patel.
Coach B preaches daily “give more of yourself to someone else” while pushing his athletes through grueling workouts. It always stuck with me as an amazing concept to dig deeper in pursuit of a much greater goal, a bigger goal that could only be achieved as a team.
One day during a conditioning workout for the Men’s basketball team I was fortunate enough to see this come to life. The team was running a conditioning test that needed to be completed in a predetermined time or the whole team must re-run the missed sprint.
Now, normally when approaching the tougher bouts the more conditioned players sprint along side the players whom might not make the time to give moral and verbal support. Today was no different in that manner, except instead of just being there for the less conditioned player, the stronger player grabbed his slower counterpart and finished the second half of the sprint pulling on his shirt crossing the finish line with seconds to spare.
Physically leading his teammate whom didn’t think he could make it through that workout speaks volumes of the great leadership and commitment each player has towards one another. Seeing that with my own two eyes was moving to say the least.
Today one of my best friends from college is taking this to a whole new level.
To make a long story short, a girl whom previously attended Sacred Heart University is in dyer need of a new liver. I am proud to say that my friend is becoming a living donor for Alison today. Talk about giving more of yourself to someone else, my friend has never met or seen Alison before, but was so moved by an e-mail that her family sent out to the university that he took her life into his own hands and is trying to give her a second chance at life.
Please take a moment today to pray and think of both Alison and my friend as they both go through major, potentially life changing surgery and wish them the best.
If anyone is willing to donate to her cause please visit this link.
Goal setting is one of the most over looked aspects of life. People are not critical enough of themselves, afraid to be held accountable for their actions, and choose poor goals.
How to set GOOD Goals:
1.) Define your goal, broad goals are fine. (e.g. gain muscle)
2.) Redefine your goal. (gain 15 lbs of muscle)
3.) Analyze your limiting factors. (not eating enough calories, post-workout nutrition, not enough fat in your diet)
4.) Choose a date you want to goal achieved by.
5.) Create a plan of action, be precise. (prepare 6 meals the day before so you don’t miss a meal, eat 500 more calories a day, have a shake sitting in my car for after the gym ready to drink)
6.) Make yourself accountable: post a sign on your fridge or on a wall, tell your friends, do anything that will remind you that goal is important enough to make it a daily priority.
7.) Start Now, Not tomorrow.
8.) Surround yourself with positive people, who are willing to help you with your goals.
9.) Re-assess the plan every week or two.
When dealing with body composition, try to keep perspective that your body can only lose or gain so much weight in a given time (most experts agree anywhere between 0.25-1 lb a week). So when setting a date, make sure it is physiologically possible to achieve that goal, do not set yourself up for failure.
Gains may come sporadically, but do not allow a slip in your progress. If you have set a goal of 1 lb every 2 weeks of muscle, 6 weeks from your start date 2 lbs of an increase would not be acceptable, thus needing to reassess your plan of action.
Finding people who will be supportive in your quest to achieve lofty goals can make or break your success. Don’t allow negativity to distract you from what you believe is attainable… what kind of friend puts down their friends anyways?
Just about anything is possible as long as you have a plan and work hard enough at it. If you are failing on your own, find an expert or a friend with more experience and knowledge in the area your trying to improve upon. Asking for help is not a weakness, as long as you adhere to the advice given.
This system can be applied to all aspects of life; don’t limit it to training and nutrition.
I’ve been asked many times if a push-up is a strength or endurance exercise. The answer: it depends.
If you are first starting to do push up’s and you can only get 2 reps in a set, then obviously you have limited strength in the exercise. Now if you work your way up to 100 reps in a set you have built a base of strength, which allows you to work in the endurance end of the spectrum.
I like to think of pitching in the same light. Depending on the coach, you will get differing thoughts about if pitching is an endurance or explosive movement. I believe it’s both.
The act of pitching is explosive by nature that uses fast twitch muscle fibers in the arms and legs, no pitcher wishes to strive for a slow delivery. The repeated action of throwing a baseball requires more than just explosiveness; it requires endurance from the body to be able to replicate the motion over and over again.
Now many coaches and trainers still believe that the ideal way to train pitchers for the “endurance” aspect of pitching is by running long distances. Not only has this belief been proven to be scientifically flawed, anecdotal evidence points us to believe this is false as well.
Think of a quarterback, whom has the same responsibly (in the throwing aspect) as a pitcher. His job is to be able to repeat the delivery of throwing a football numerous times a game. Now when is the last time you saw a quarterback running miles upon miles to get in shape? I honestly can’t think of one. What you do see is him running sprints with the rest of the team, building up his work capacity of running around the field and throwing the ball throughout the duration of the game. And there is no way in hell that any pitcher runs more than a quarterback in any given game, so why train him that way?
So what about training for the endurance portion of pitching? Throw. Endurance is built through repetition, whether it is push-ups or pitching, repetition is the key to building endurance. That is why it is so important to implement a proper throwing program to build endurance of the pitching motion. Progressive overload is the key; here is a copy of the throwing program I refer coaches and players to. It was published by Mike Reinold, who is an athletic trainer for the Red Sox.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Pitchers need to build strength through sprints and strength training and endurance through the act of pitching. Simple, yet very effective.