The Art of Training In-Season

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

At this time of the year, after a full off-season of strength training, upcoming tryouts and practices, erratic throwing schedules, sitting on the bench in a kyphotic posture, waiting to get your reps on the mound are a few of the variables that can wreak havoc on an athlete’s body and more importantly his arm.

If quality weight room work trails off, so will power on the mound and/or on the field, leaving an athlete vulnerable to a cavalcade of maladies including a gradual drop in velocity, mobility, and most importantly injury as the season moves onward.  Pitchers can lose anywhere from 5-10 degrees of internal rotation during an outing due mostly in part to tightness in the posterior cuff from decelerating the arm repeatedly.

Once the athlete’s power output drops down below 80% of capacity (or where he started at the beginning of the off-season), compensations begin to take place up the chain, in order to maintain overall performance. This illustrative graph, courtesy of PT Mike Reinold who I once heard refer to this as a “controlled fall”, tells us a lot.

While throwing a baseball does help increase arm speed and the soft tissue’s resilience to stress, it can’t be maintained unless you are maintaining strength and mobility as well. If that was the case pitchers would be stronger at the end of a long season instead of crawling back into the gym in August wondering why their arm hurts “right here” or “right there”. Remember, hip, back, ankle, and neck issues also can cause a weak link in the chain and take a direct route to the arm.

Training In-Season – Playing is ABSOLUTELY NOT the same as training! Getting in at least 1-2 training sessions/week during the season will not only help you maintain your strength, it will guarantee that you’re getting in the necessary mobility work to help get those 10 degrees back before you pitch again. That alone would be a win-win situation. Maintaining that IR while your external rotation increases naturally from going into lay-back during throwing is paramount in helping to maintain both total motion at the shoulder and velocity throughout the season.

(Cross Body Stretch)

If you’ve been involved in a successful off-season program, you owe it to yourself to continue with an effective in-season program. Spending four months in the off-season to increase body weight, mobility and strength is a big investment, both time-wise and financially. You don’t want to let it “trail off” when the season starts and trust me, it will trail off. Strength losses begin to accumulate within 2-3 weeks after strength training stops.

Without getting too much into the nuts and bolts of the actual programming, I’ve sketched out some of the parameters that I include in my in-season programs. These sessions should be designed to maintain your strength and mobility without creating any residual soreness that could have an impact on field performance.

No Humeral Movement in Mobility Work – With throwing having started, I tend to keep the arm in less provocative positions when performing mobility work. One example would be replacing side-lying windmills with quadruped t-spine mob.

(Quadruped T-Spine Mob.)

Maintaining IR and Upward Rotation – Pitchers can lose anywhere from 5-10 degrees of internal rotation during an outing due mostly in part to tightness in the posterior cuff from decelerating the arm repeatedly.

(Side-Lying CBS)

Med Ball Work on Non-Dom Side Only – Although we’ll never get our guys totally symmetrical (nor should we try), getting back some symmetry rotation-wise can help avoid problems elsewhere in the chain.

Modifications of Strength Training – Modifying strength training exercises to accommodate the increase in throwing volume is extremely important. For example, moving from deadlifts to hip bridges takes a lot of the weight out of our pitcher’s hands and gives the lats / scapular depression a break during months when they are throwing regularly.

(Barbell Hip Bridge)

No More than 12 Sets (not including cuff work) – Keeping the set intensities at around 70-75% helps ensure we’re not creating any residual soreness that may effect on-field performance 24-48 hours later. We’ll generally use an 8-rep set done with a 10RM intensity.

Note: These workouts do not include conditioning work (athletes will get enough movement during the week at practice, doing sprint work, fielding ground balls and warm-ups).

Frequency – The reality is many high school kids between practice and homework can’t get to the gym more than 2x per week. In this case, we use 2 “full body” strength training sessions per week, instead of the upper / lower splits or high / low periodization we incorporate during the off-season when most of our athletes are training upwards of 4-5 days/week.

With pitchers, we would optimally like to see them the day after throwing so we can account for a majority of their weekly training / playing stress within a 24-hour period.  This allows them to have time to recover in-between starts. We can also make sure that they are doing their mobility and soft tissue (foam rolling) work correctly.

Remember, it’s not about who’s the strongest, it’s about who stays the strongest all season. So think twice about “not having the time” to train in-season… you can’t afford not to.

See ya’ in the gym…

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The Best of 2017 – Strength and Conditioning Articles

By Nunzio Signore (B.A., CSCS, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Here in Part 3 of this 2017 “Best of” series, are this year’s most popular articles on strength and conditioning… [Read more…]

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Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Headed

By Nunzio Signore and Bahram Shirazi

As we get closer to the end of another year here at RPP, it seems like a good time to reflect back on 2017, and provide you with a glimpse of where we might be headed in 2018. [Read more…]

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Top 10 Things to Look (or look out) for in Selecting an Athletic Training Facility

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

What to Look For Top

I work with athletes and train guys who are really serious about getting bigger, stronger and faster. That’s what I am passionate about. Granted, there are five million strength coaches who flip tires, train with CrossFit and run boot camps with ladder drills and cone drills and call it strength training. Well, I’m here to tell you that it needs to be better than that if athletes are to get to the next level. [Read more…]

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The Top Secret Part I Left out from the Secret Sauce

By Bahram Shirazi (BSEE, MBA, Co-owner RPP)

Top Secret

My prior article on our Secret Sauce at RPP (click here) ended with this “Oh, and making our pitchers as strong and explosive as we can, in all the right places”.  In this article, I would like to go a little further and review why and how we have been successful in training high performance athletes. The truth is, it’s all about mass customization.  Strength training is science but it’s also art. I have heard my partner, Nunzio Signore, say to clients a million times “the body is connected in all parts and ways, a potential issue in one location may very well be due to an issue somewhere else”.  The reality is that every athlete that walks into our facility needs a different road-map to be the best they can be.  So here we go with the Top Secret stuff… [Read more…]

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Top 9 Reasons Pitchers Get Injured – Part 3

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Top Injury 3 1

In the final piece of this three part series (click here for Part 2, here for Part 1) on injury and its mechanisms, we’ll look at shutting down, ramping-up and poor strength training programs. [Read more…]

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Top 9 Reasons Pitchers Get Injured – Part 2

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Top Injury 2 1

In Part 2 of this 3 Part series (click here of part 1), we’re continuing down the path of injuries and what I believe to be many of the main perpetrators…

[Read more…]

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4 Simple Ways to Maintain Lower Half Power In-Season

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Lower Top 1

The reality is that between practice and homework many high school kids can’t get to the gym more than 1-2 x’s per week. So here at RPP, we recommend supplementing your in-season training with some strength / mobility work that can be done at home or at the field. These exercises are designed to maintain your strength and mobility without creating any residual soreness that could effect on-field performance. It’s not as efficient as coming into the gym and getting your reps done but it’s better than not doing anything at all… much better. [Read more…]

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In-Season Training… Managing a Controlled Fall

Managing a Controlled Fall - TopBy Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)

At this time of the year, after a full off-season of strength training, and with upcoming tryouts and practices, erratic throwing schedules are a few of the variables that can wreak havoc on an athlete’s body and more importantly his arm. If quality weight room work (needed to maintain strength and mobility) trails off, so will power on the mound and/or on the field.  It will likely leave an athlete vulnerable to a cavalcade of maladies including a gradual drop in velocity (have I got your attention now?), mobility, and possibly injury as the season moves onward.
[Read more…]

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Baseball in March – Let’s Not Get ahead of Ourselves

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)

Baseball in March Top

The beginning of baseball season is an exciting time. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when many ball players shoot themselves in the foot.  Let me explain.  Once we get to March and tryouts begin, many players view this as the beginning of the baseball season, and unfortunately, also see it as a cue to stop strength training. [Read more…]

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