Strength Training When Throwing Ramps Up…

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

When you get past the on-ramp stage of a combined strength and throwing program and get into the more high intensity throwing portion, you need to keep a few things in mind. For the few guys that still need to gain muscle/weight, we’ll handle them a bit differently in the weight room but that’s for another blog. For most of our guys that have packed on muscle, this means that weight room work from a volume and intensity perspective can and should be scaled down.

Having said that, when a new stressor gets added, something else must be taken away, “addition by subtraction”.  Other than continuing soft tissue work to the major players (pec minor, teres, levator, tricep etc.) and making sure arm care is done correctly (not cranking down with the lats or making sure we are hitting serratus to name a few), the volume in the weight room must be adjusted. Here are a couple big ones.

Balancing Out Lat-dominant Work – Because of the lats attachment from the thoracolumbar fascia to the upper arm, it becomes a major player in internal rotation, adduction and helping to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body.

Two of the lat’s main functions are to help decelerate (eccentric) the arm when going into layback and producing concentric force when switching to acceleration phase. This is most prevalent when throwing intensity ramps up. Many times, this will further shorten the lats causing athletes to start to present with some sort of scapular depression.

This in turn can limit external rotation (layback) and the overall ability to upwardly rotate the scap to efficiently get the arm overhead. When this happens, the athlete will then try to get that layback from other resources such as the elbow or hyper extension in the lower lumbar.

As far as the weight room goes, there is no need to further overwork the lats once throwing intensity ramps up, so we swap out a few things in the weight room to create a less “lat dominant environment”.

Moving over to hip bridges at this point will still strengthen the posterior chain but without holding all the weight in the hands making it less of a lat dominant exercise.

(Hip Bridge)

We also replace Farmer Walks in the programming with Bottoms-up Carries to work lateral stability without heavy weights in the hands.

(Bottoms-up Carry)

Incorporating Faster Plyometric Work into Programming – The main goal of plyometrics is to decrease the time going from the eccentric to concentric phase during the throwing phase, this is the point in which the arm switches from lay back to acceleration.

(Layback to Accel)

It becomes more important to chase this training effect as throwing ramps up to produce that force quicker to help the athlete get in and out of the scap load quickly, more accurately and train “game-time” speed.

When talking about med ball work, switching over from training power with a heavier ball to a lighter, more bouncier ball will force the athlete to absorb what is coming back (eccentric) through his scap load and quickly transfer the force concentrically back out.

(Rapid Chest/OH Pass)

Summary

These are just two examples of how we adjust strength work in the weight room to adjust to changes in the throwing protocol. Remember, a great program should incorporate throwing and strength training as ONE program and not view them as two separate entities.

See ya’ in the gym…