Maintaining Speed and Power during the COVID-19 Outbreak

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

No one could have ever imagined the position that college, high school and even pro baseball would be in at this time. Well with RPP having to close temporarily, I have been quarantined (much like everyone else in the northeast) in the house with my daughter and my wife, trying to figure out 50 new ways to reinvent the wheel. In that time, I keep working on our business, trying to use this downtime to find ways to hit the ground running once we’re all up and around again. Through it all, it’s been great to see the baseball community come together and help young athletes, with “less than optimal” equipment, maintain and continue to build their athleticism.

Well, I’m here to shed a little bit of positive light on the situation. That’s right, some GOOD NEWS. Throughout the year, baseball being all about explosive power, requires a combination of various types of strength and conditioning:

    • Max Strength
    • Accel Strength
    • Anaerobic/alactic Conditioning (max effort for < 12 sec)
    • Strength-Speed (Power)
    • Speed

Whether it be strength, power or speed, these abilities will remain effective, after training stops at a heightened level, only for a given period. This drop in retention of specific athletic components is referred to as “the residual training effect”.

It’s important to know how fast an athlete will lose each specific trait gained in off-season training (say “strength-speed” for example once he stops training for it). It’s also important to know how quickly each trait will decline and make sure all components are retained in order to give the athlete the best opportunity to succeed this summer.

Below is a chart based on studies by Bondarchuck (1981) and Issurin (2010) showing the specific components needed to excel on the field as well as the amount of time (residual effect) before they begin to falter.  Please take a close look at the right-hand column.

residual effect

Now here’s the good news.

With speed and strength-speed (the first 2 rows above) having the quickest residual effects and summer ball just around the corner, these are the two traits we really need to be hitting on a weekly basis for right now.

Fortunately, training these two types of strength require quick movements but very little load, making it very “doable” for at-home training during this really tough time. So here are a few things that require very little equipment that you can do at home during this temporary lock down.

Speed (residual effect 3-7 days) – Once baseball starts, speed work becomes more specific in the form of throwing, hitting fielding and base running and becomes the responsibility of the coach to train these qualities through practice. But for now, the responsibility is ours and we can train these qualities at home through the use of short sprint work, and fast SSC stretch-shortening cycle plyometric drills.

 (5-10-5 shuttle)

Speed can be used to train the upper body as well. Here we’re working getting in and out of the scap load.

(Plyo Chest Pass)

Strength-Speed / Speed-Strength (residual effect 10-20 days) – This is about Power.  Strength-speed is defined as moving a moderately heavy weight as fast as possible. Speed-strength can be best defined as speed in conditions of strength.  In essence, it is utilizing lighter loads at very fast velocities. This is key for maintaining first step quickness and overall explosiveness and can be trained using 50-60% of a 1RM or in some cases bodyweight.

(Lateral Power Step-ups)

Even with exercises that require plates, by utilizing only 60% of 1RM brings the amount of weight needed down considerably. My one rep max bench is about 185 lbs. Here, I’m using 105 lbs. for 8 sets of 3 (1 min rest between sets).

(Speed Bench Press @ 60% 1RM)

Max Strength / Aerobic Capacity (residual effect 25-30 days) – These qualities have longer residual effects, meaning that we do not need to train it more than 2-3x per month during this unexpected layoff. With most athletes not having the proper equipment to load up 80-90% of a 1RM, time will be much better spent on exercises that utilize lighter intensities and performed at quicker speeds in order to get more explosive.

Be safe everyone, we’ll get through this and we’ll all be lifting heavy and sweating together again soon enough.

See ya’ in the gym…

Studies:

    1. Bondarchuk AP (1981). The physical preparation designing in power disciplines of track and field. Kiev: Health Publisher (Zdorovie, Russian). http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/ResidualTraining.html
    2. Issurin V (2010). New horizons for the methodology and physiology of training periodization. Sports Med. 40: 189-206.

If you’d like to be placed on our email list please enter your email address below!