The Re-Conditioning Phase (Hypertrophy)… Training in the Fall – Part 2

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

Muscle Mass and Throwing Gas - Image 2

Today, I am going to continue with Part 2 of this article on the importance of early off-season training, what I call the “Re-conditioning Phase” (if you haven’t read Part 1 you can do so by clicking here).  In Part 2, we’re going to make our way into the weight room, discuss core work and conditioning and talk a little bit about the very often under-looked nutrition part.

5. Manual Resistance – Nothing works on strengthening the posterior cuff better than manual resistance drills. They’re also great for activating the posterior cuff just prior to going into the weight room. However, guys who are still playing fall ball need not apply as throwing is hard enough on the cuff.

(Cable ER)

6. Strength Training – September and October is when we focus on hypertrophy or muscle mass in the weight room. While maximum strength is a must for creating and cementing good stability at adjacent joints as well as being the building block with which both power and speed are built on, building these athletic qualities without a good solid base of strength (muscle) first would be like trying to build a house from the top down. It’s also a great way to get a jump on an additional 5 lbs. lean muscle mass!!

Training in the Fall - 2 (upside down house)

Early in the off-season (fall), we like to focus on unilateral exercises for the simple reason that they are a bit more “forgiving” movement than bilateral squatting or dead-lifting. This is because of the fact that while performing a single leg exercise, you can “cheat” by borrowing a bit of movement from the frontal (side-to-side) plane. In 4-6 weeks, after we have cemented some good hip mobility as well as better ankle and core stability, we’ll go straight into our bilateral exercises like dead-lifts and squat variations.

Training in the Fall - 2 (armed forces)

Remember, many young athletes don’t continue to train during the in-season so they’re movement quality and muscle mass is a bit compromised coming into the gym by September/October.  In 4-6 weeks, after we have cemented some good hip mobility as well as better ankle and core stability, we’ll go straight into our bilateral exercises like dead-lifts and squat variations.

7. Anterior and Anti-rotational Core Work – Good anterior (front) core strength helps stabilize the thorax (rib-cage) to give the scapula a nice stable surface to move on. It also does wonders to keep our athletes with an anterior pelvic tilt (please click here for more on this topic) out of extension in their lower lumbar.

Training in the Fall - 2 (back)

Note: Although there is no “rotational” core work early on, we do work on “resisting” core rotation which can go a long way in helping prevent lower back pain as a result of going passed the end-range while throwing a baseball or swinging a bat.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

Tall Kneeling Cable Push Presses are great for working on both the anterior and anti-rotational aspects of the core at the same time.

(Tall Kneeling Cable Push Press)

8. Conditioning – Okay, here is a personal pet peeve of mine. WE DO NO RUNNING IN THE EARLY OFF-SEASON… PERIOD.

Running really compromises an athlete’s strength, and we don’t want to risk any injuries given the amount of strength training our guys will be doing in the upcoming months. Besides, this is the time to get strong. Our emphasis on speed comes a little later on in January/February. If you’d like to dive deeper into my thoughts on this please read my prior article on “Running, the Gift of Slowness” by clicking here.

9. Nutrition – Many guys come into the gym a bit underweight from not training and eating poorly during summer ball. We’re going to give these guys a diet plan to help them gain muscle and consume healthy calories. On the other hand, some of our guys need to drop weight, so we’ll try and get them to choose better quality food choices and adjust the workouts accordingly. It’s very common to see an athlete gain 10-15 lbs. of muscle or lose 10% body fat during the off-season.  For all you “hard gainers”, this can easily become a 20-25 lb weight gain if an additional 8 weeks of strength training and nutrition are added.  Please click here for an off-season nutrition plan.

See ya’ in the gym.


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