Customized Mechanics – Weighted Jumps

When I started this series, which I hope to finish someday, the whole idea was to talk/write my way through a battery of tests and assessments that can be used to build profiles that give us a quantifiable data about each athletes physical abilities and attributes.  The goal then is to use this information to help adapt the training and coaching to suit the athlete and their unique physical profile.  Too often its the other way around where the athlete is forced to try and adapt to one type of training and/or coaching that may or may not be suited for them.  This approach will work for some athletes just by chance but if you want to increase your ability as a coach to help each athlete then we another approach.  To illustrate this point I will highlight a great research study at the end of this article which proves this point.

With this in mind I am really excited to be talking about weighted jumps because they’re a great tool to help build out some key parts of this physical profile concept.  Plus they’re an awesome training tool that can help increase the amount of power that our athletes can produce in a safe manner.  It’s awesome anytime we can pick an exercise that kills two birds with one stone saving both time and energy.

First lets talk about why they’re a great training tool before we get into the profiling part of the conversation.

To start weighted jump performance has been correlated to athletic performance with tests like vertical jump as well as 10 and 20 meter sprint times (proof, proofproof).  This should be enough reason to put them into your training but I will keep going on in case you aren’t convinced.

Weighted jumps as you will see in the force-velocity graph below fall between the “strength-speed” and the “Power” sections on the curve.  This “Power” section on the curve relates to a sweet spot where we can produce the most, you guessed it, power.  Remember that power is the product of Force x Velocity and when we use weighted jumps we have the ability to display the highest amounts of power compared to any other type of training.  When we look at heavy squats for example they have lots of Force but very little Velocity where as plyometrics or jump training has lots of Velocity but very little Force which causes both types of training to come up short when we measure how much Power they produce.


So just how Powerful are Weighted Jumps? 

Here is a link to a study that had a subjects produce upwards of 5783 Watts with weighted jumps while this study was a bit more modest but still had subjects pumping out 4600 Watts.  This might not mean much to you until you realize that elite level Olympic lifters who have spent years perfecting their technique and weighed around 220lbs produce 4700 Watts while other studies have shown numbers more in the 4200 and 4300 Watts range.

How to Do Them

Basically you just jump with a extra weight loaded to your body.  Ironically jumping with a weight is how Olympic lifting is often described when coaches tell you to “triple extend” through the hips, knees and ankles.   The two most common methods are either using a bar across your shoulders (back or front squat) or holding the weight in your hands like dumbbells or a hex bar.  The only risks that are associated with weighted jumps are during the landing because of the extra stress.  Be sure to practice these with lighter loads but they’re very easy to learn and get used to which again makes them superior to Olympic lifts.

With the weights in your hands it’s easier to decelerate and its also been shown to outperform weighted jumps when the bar is on your back in regards to the amount of power being produced, this study again.  By having the weight up on your shoulders your centre of gravity is higher making the landing a bit more difficult plus your neck/spine has to absorb the weight of the bar.  Its still a practical exercise but its just takes a bit more skill.

Here is an example of what I am talking about with two different types of loaded jumps.  This one above is of Isaac Greer who can throw in the mid 90’s and was just ranked #31 on Baseball America’s players to watch at the JUCO level.  I’ve had the pleasure of training him both in person and remotely since he was 14 and he has served as a guinea pig for me multiple times.  Here he is doing a weighted jump with 95lbs.  In his defence this was the first time we had done this type of drill so he was still getting used to it.

Next is a Hex Bar jump demonstrated here by the Toronto Blue Jays Nate Pearson who can reach triple digits!!!

This looks a lot smoother but that might be due to the fact that this wasn’t his first time doing this.  I have this video because he, along with his teammates at College of Central Florida, were asked to submit video of their training during the winter break.  So he had performed this exercise a bunch of times under the supervision of his coaches.  My only contribution was putting the program together and even though I was literally thousands of miles away from these guys I felt comfortable with them doing this simple exercise  so I didn’t think twice about adding in into the program.

How Much Weight

Depends on your goal because of the principal of specificity.  This means that if you want to get better at moving faster with lighter loads then this how you should train.  In this study they found that when subjects trained with weighted jumps that were only 30% of their 1RM squat they reduced their 20 meter sprint times.  While the group that trained using weighted jumps with 80% of their 1 RM ran slower times compared to the testing at the start of the study.

This isn’t to say that heavy weighted jumps are bad once you get used to them since I think they can play a pretty significant role in helping develop the kind of lower body power that we can use on the mound.  After all we are starting from a complete stand still on one leg which to me means that heavier jumping loads have their time and place.  This is especially true if you need to specifically develop this kind of strength.

But how do you know if you need this type of strength?  You test it of course and this is leads us to my favourite aspect of weighted jumps and that’s the profiling aspect.

Jump Profiling

By measuring your jump height with a wide range of loads you can cover most of the force-velocity curve.  From here you can compare these jumps to one another to see what your profile looks like.  I’ve mentioned the MyJump app before as being the best $7 I’ve ever spent but it just keeps getting better.  The app can do all the math for your which is backed up by study after to study to give you an accurate profile.  Depending on your results you might need to spend more time getting faster by developing your velocity or you might need to spend time getting stronger to increase your force.

Here is what Isaac’s jump profile looks like with a set of 5 jumps with different loads.

17.9 Inch Jump with No Load 

15.6 Inch Jump with 25lbs

This one isn’t quite the same as the others since it is a ball rather than a bar or a stick and if you watch closely you can see him drive the ball up with his arms which might have bought him a little extra force.  But I wanted something to fill the gap between the non-loaded jump and the 45lbs bar seen here.

13.7 Inch Jump with 45 lbs

12.1 Inch Jump with 65 lbs

9.1 Inch Jump with 95 lbs

When you plug this this info into a the My Jump App here is the print out you get that graphs these jumps with the insight as to what should be trained.  This print out has a lot of cool information like the how much force is being produced and how fast the athlete is moving but the main take away here is that it spells it out for you what the athlete needs.  And in this case is clearly says “Velocity is to be developed”.

I am still trying to learn this stuff a little better myself but its great that it tells you exactly what needs to be done.  If you want to learn more about interpreting these results check out this study.

These results make sense to me because this kid loves the weight room and hasn’t gone more than a couple of days in a row without going to the gym since I’ve known him.  As a result I’ve been trying to help him develop more speed since he is “strong enough” with some fancy training programs like French Contrast Training and Tri-Phasic methods that aren’t for everyone but can help those that have a solid foundation of strength.

This approach of prescribing exercises based on what the athlete needs based on their profile has been shown to work in research.  This is one of the better studies that I have read in a while since it took a customized approach rather than splitting subjects/athletes into two groups, control and experimental.  In this study they still used a control group but the experimental group was split into different groups based on the results of their vertical jump profiling.  After each athlete was profiled at the start of the study the subjects that needed to work on on more velocity were given a training program with more speed and speed-strength exercises while those that were deemed “force deficient” were given a program with more strength and strength-speed exercises.

But did it work?  It did work and the results were amazing!! In the experimental groups all 46 subjects improved their vertical jumping ability while those that weren’t given customized programs only  had 18 out of 38 subjects improve their scores with a “cookie cutter” program.

This shows how powerful this type of assessment can be and how it can help you make the most out of your time and energy.  This was the same type of idea that I was trying to describe in my Elasticity articles, here and here,  when we look at the difference between drop jumps, countermovement and squat jumps.

How does this relate to pitching?

Once you have this information what do you do with it?  Do you try to sure up your weakness’ or do you fortify your strengths?  When it comes to training in the gym the above study shows pretty clearly that you need to focus in the area that you’re deficient but when you’re on the mound you must rely on your strengths.  I would suspect that the athletes who are strong but slow would benefit from more of a drop n’ drive style of pitching and vice versa.  But if an athlete works on changing their profile they would also need to adapt their mechanics as time goes on to take advantage of their physical abilities and attributes.

All very complicated things I am still trying to wrap my head around.

In keeping with my goal of trying to keep this under 2000 words I will end things here before coming back with the next instalment in this series when we talk about speed-strength.

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS






Strength-Speed: Customized Mechanics

First of all I am really sorry about the length of delay between articles but I’ve got a couple of really good excuses that I will be sharing soon.  Unlike most excuses these ones are legit and have made me even more motivated to keep studying and writing about baseball performance.  I am hoping that it turns into more writing!!

For now let’s get back to this series that I call “Customized Mechanics” where I am working my way through this idea of building mechanics and training around each athlete and their physical profile like we see here.

Today’s focus is going to be on “Strength-Speed” which is a type of strength that is described as moving a moderately heavy load at a moderate speed.  This is really important because when we initiate the pitching delivery we are in fact moving a moderate load, in the form of your own body weight, at a moderate speed, before moving faster and faster as we climb the kinetic chain and let go of the baseball.

To put some numbers with the term moderate we can think of the load as being about 75-85% of 1RM while the speed is in the 0.75-1.0 m/s range.  The intent on moving the load however should not be moderate since you should be moving at a max speed but due the load the speed then slows down to this “moderate” range.

Looking at the chart below we can see some of the exercises that are associated with this part of the force-velocity curve.  These types of exercises we can help us both measure how much “strength-speed” an athlete has as well as providing a means to train and improve this area, if this particular athlete needs to spend time and energy improving this athletic quality.

The two types of exercises that we see  on either side of “Strength-Speed” are Olympic Lifting and Weighted jumps which I will dedicate an entire article for each one.  But before we move onto the controversial topic of Olympic Lifting for baseball players I do want to mention that traditional lifts like  deadlifts, bench press or squats can also be performed in this range of moderate load and speed.  But its harder to use them as an assessment tool since approximately 34% of each lift is spent accelerating while the remaining 66% is spent decelerating the weight.

Olympic Lifting – The Controversy

Olympic lifting for baseball is a controversial topic but controversy gets peoples attention.  In fact there is a good chance that you are reading this site due to the fact that I did an interview with Eric Cressey discussing my research since it helped him justify why he doesn’t use Olympic lifting with his baseball players, in particular pitchers.   Eric wanted to talk with me because he was receiving a lot of criticism when he wrote that he doesn’t use Olympic lifts and for some strength and conditioning professionals this was blasphemous since Olympic lifts are held in such high regard for some coaches.  But like any exercise or drill we must weigh the risks vs the rewards to see if it is the right tool for the job.  In my opinion traditional Olympic lifts like the clean and snatch do not provide enough rewards to outweigh the risks which could be an injury to the wrist’s and elbows which was Eric’s biggest concern not to mention the fact that it isn’t a great predictor of throwing velocity since it isn’t specific enough to the movement.

Now I don’t like to work with absolutes nor do I want to throw the baby out with the bath water here because the lower body power that can be attained from moving a moderate load at a moderate speed can definitely help out when you’re on the mound.  This is especially true of weaker players.  So instead of dismissing them all together I suggest we go all Bruce Lee on them by “absorbing what is useful” and “discard what is useless”

We want to absorb from Olympic lifting the ability to train the lower body with the right mix of resistance and velocity.  What we want to discard however is the catching of the weight which increases the chance of injury.  Learning how to properly catch the weight takes a long time which is another con in using this form of training.  Could this time and energy be spent else where?  This is a question that you have to ask yourself.  Even if you are proficient at catching the barbell it only takes one bad one to ruin your meal ticket (aka your throwing arm).   Plus there’s a good chance as a pitcher you have long forearms which are great for throwing a baseball but are bad when it comes to catching a barbell in the proper position.

So let’s look for a “Win-Win” situation so can work on producing this type of force with the lower body without having to catch a heavy barbell on our shoulders and wrists.   Movements like jump shrugs or high pulls allow for us to “reject what is useless and accept what is useful”.  These are known in the S&C world as Olympic Lifting derivatives.

In fact there is research papers like this one or this one out there that show that Olympic weightlifting derivatives that don’t include the catch phase like a high pull or jump shrug produce just as much benefit.  If that isn’t enough here’s some research that demonstrates that the derivatives without the catch were even better.  Finally here is one last research article that is specific to baseball.  Hopefully that’s enough academic proof to keep the Olympic lift traditionalists from calling me out and if they want some “real life in the trenches proof” we can look at Eric Cressey again who still doesn’t use them much, as far as I know, and he has both the NL and AL Cy Young award winners in his gym!!!

If we are going to use these types of lifts then we need to find a way to quantify them and the best way to do this is to measure bar speed.  Radar guns don’t pick up barbell velocity very well so if you want to use Olympic lifting derivatives to assess how much “strength-speed” a particular athlete has then you need to get your hands on a device like the tendo unit, bar sensi or push device.

The reason that you need to quantify the speed is that if we only use the weight on the bar as a guide the Olympic lifts tend to be too slow in order to get the benefits we want from training in strength-speed zone.  I’ve mentioned this before idea before here when I read an article by Dr. Bryan Mann who is an expert in the field of velocity based training.  He recounts a story about how he measured the velocity of the Olympic lifts with his football team when the weight on the bar was the primary focus.  When he measured the speeds they were in the 0.6 to 0.8m/s range when his guys were performing hang cleans so it was only the fastest guys that were just barely in this “strength-speed” range of 0.75 to 1.0 m/s.  The proof that it was too slow came when they tested vertical jumps and didn’t see any improvements.  But when the speed of the bar became the focus the jump heights went up.  Jump height is a far better indicator of on-field football performance which is the reason we don’t see Olympic lifting at the NFL combine.

Remember that we are using the weight room as a means to increase our performance on the mound.  The fact that we aren’t lifting the weight with one leg in the frontal plane, like we see on the mound, still means that the benefits that a pitcher gets from using Olympic lifts, even if they are performed fast enough and safe enough, might not be the right choice for each athlete.

But I do really like how they can be used to help an athlete initiate power from a complete stand still. This is an area that I feel a lot of players with lots of mobility, elasticity and limb length could use since they can’t get enough FORCE in the first place in order to take advantage of these qualities which help produce SPEED.  Remember that FORCE x SPEED = POWER.

So if a player is generally weak like we talked about in the absolute strength article it is pretty safe to assume that their strength-speed isn’t very good either.  Personally I like to use some traditional lifts like squats and deadlifts with an emphasis on speed to help increase this quality while also making them stronger overall.  Even if the bar spends more than half the time slowing down I still take it over trying to catch the weight.

Even guys that have lots of absolute strength can benefit from this type of training if they can’t move 75-85% of their 1RM in that speed range that we are looking for meaning that this player is strong but slow which doesn’t allow for max power when we are talking about a 50z baseball.

To sum things up here I think that in most cases Olympic lifts don’t provide baseball players the biggest bang for their buck but if you are going use them I suggest:

  • not catching the weight
  • starting from a standstill
  • measure bar velocity

The next part of this series will talk about weight jumps as we make our way towards “speed-strength”.  This one should be fun to put together since I have some examples of guys that can throw 95mph+ doing some weighted jumps.

Until then stay strong but stay fast

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS


Throwing with Intent Webinar

I wanted to give everyone who reads this site access to a webinar I created earlier this year since it has been a while between blog articles and I don’t want to lose you.

This webinar is from a online summit I was part of that Bill Massulo organized.  I’ve agreed to do another for this years summit and I will keep you posted.

This webinar,like a lot of my articles, is long but it covers a lot.  The theme of the summit was intent so I tried by best to define that term and how we should use sound scientific mechanics along with proper coaching cues.  The final part of the presentation is a bit of a summary of my series on customizing mechanics, training and cues to suit the individual athlete.

Graeme Lehman Webinar Link

Here are some approximate start times for different sections of the presentation:

  • What is Intent – 7:00
  • Research on Mechanics – 11:00
  • Mechanics summary – 28:00
  • How to teach with Better Cues – 31:00
  • Coaching Cue Checklist – 56:00
  • Customizing Mechanics – 57:00

I hope you enjoy it and get something out of it that you can use.  I am honored when anyone will take their time to listen or read something that I’ve created so thanks again for your patients and I will be pumping out some hopefully high quality content very soon.

Graeme Lehman Webinar Link

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS




Customized Mechanics – Max Strength

This article is going to focus on the type of strength that most people associate with the weight room or use when describing someone as being “strong”.   In the previous article we learnt about the different types of strength and where they sit on a force-velocity curve.

Lifting heavy weights has always been controversial in baseball.  Years ago everyone was warned not to lift weights in fear of getting too big and bulky which would cause a restriction in mobility .  Then the steroid era shed some light on how stronger muscles created an obvious advantage that a baseball player can use to produce the kind of power needed to launch a baseball out of a hand or off a bat.

Image result for jose canseco weight training book

One of these two players admitted to using steroids – can you guess which one?

So being strong is a good thing, but exactly how strong do you need to be?  What kind of numbers should you be aiming for in the gym?  The answer to this question is that it depends.  We have to look at all the other parts of that athletes physical profile to see how this piece of the puzzle fits.  The guy that’s super long and lanky doesn’t need to impress you in the weight room and keep up with his teammates squat totals in order to light up a radar gun which means that the answer of how strong YOU need to be falls within a range.

And yes there is an upper limit on this range meaning that you can have too much of a good thing.  This was the same when we explored other parts of the profile like anthropometrics and mobility.

Can you be too strong?

The reason why I want to place a limit on getting stronger is because as you start to climb higher and higher you begin to experience what’s known as diminishing rates of returns on your investment.  This means that if you worked in the gym to get your squat to go up from 100 lbs to a 200 lbs you would see a rise in your fastball velocity of let’s say 10 mph.  That’s a good investment.  If you went from a 200 lbs to 300 lbs you might get another 5 mph which is still a good investment, but not as good.  If you then tried to go from 300 lbs to a 400 lbs you might only see your velocity go up just a little if any. This is a diminished rate of return on your investment.

What are you investing?  The two most valuable resources that you have as an athlete; time and energy.

These resources are both limited meaning that each athlete needs to think hard about how they should spend these valuable commodities.  If you’re already strong enough then maybe you should focus on getting faster with other types of strength which are more at the velocity end of the spectrum.  Or how about learning to throw your change-up in a fastball count, I hear that’s important.

The diminished rate of return is a result of the fact that moving a heavy weight really slowly is so far away from where throwing a baseball is when you look at them on the force velocity curve. This means that they aren’t very specific to one another.  This is what Dr. Mann discovered when he tried to use heavy Olympic lifts to increase vertical jump which aren’t that far apart on the curve but far enough that he needed to make a change in their training.  It was only when he lighted the load and stressed speed that he saw positive returns on his investment.  Read the details here about 3/4 of the way through the article.

My last argument about getting too strong is probably the most important which is the risk of injury. Even if you are performing these lifts correctly they’re stressful on the body and from what I’ve seen in my professional career and on various social media sites the cases of bad technique highly out number the good ones.

I don’t know what you would call this exercise because it definitely isn’t a squat!!

Why Absolute Strength is a Good Thing

Before we go any further I want to state for the record that I am a big fan of making guys stronger, after all I am a strength & conditioning coach.  Most players don’t have to worry about being too strong anytime soon because it takes a lot of time and effort to reach these levels.  But for the mature athlete that has a solid history in the weight room attaining this status of being “strong enough” for baseball is within reach.

Reasons why you Absolutely need to train absolute/max strength:

  • Great tool to add lean muscle mass that is needed to throw hard.  Mass=Gas
  • Teaches proper movement – every athlete needs to be able to perform movements like squats, hinges (deadlift) and lunges in order to help teach stability for the long and loose players while increasing mobility for the tight individuals.
  • Due to the nature of baseball it gets its fair share of athlete’s that aren’t “gym strong” due to long and loose limbs.  This type of strength is exactly what these kinds of athlete’s need.
  • This type of strength is thought to be the foundation that other types of strength are built upon.  An analogy is that this type of strength is the size of the cup that you can fill with faster types of strength which means that it is your limiting factor.
  • Can help avoid injury by being able to help absorb the high amounts of stress to the body causes by the very fast and sometimes violent act of pitching.
  • The fact that the pitching motion begins from a dead standstill off of one leg means that this specific limb and portion of the delivery does need a healthy amount of good old fashion strength.

How to To Assess Absolute/Max Strength

Now that we have covered the pro’s and con’s let’s talk about the specific exercises that we can use to assess this type of strength.  Below is another force-velocity curve but this time it has some of the common types of strength training used to focus on each portion of the curve that we can use to put some objective numbers on each type of strength.

Image result for force velocity curve

Powerlifting is the type of training that is associated with max strength and the speed’s we see here are typically from 0.15 to 0.3 m/s.  In the sport powerlifting you combine your 1 rep max totals from the big 3 exercises which are the squat, bench press and deadlift.  Whoever has the highest total wins!!

As a baseball player you don’t need to compete in the sport of powerlifting in order to get some of the benefits that come with performing the big 3.  We can adapt these lifts to suit your body type and aim for a couple of extra reps (2-5) at the faster end of the spectrum so that you don’t have to stress your body to the max.

We always have to remember that we are exercising in the weight room to get better on the mound.  This is important because it will direct us to using versions of the big 3 which will help minimize the risk while still allowing you to reap the rewards.

Let’s check out the big 3 and how we can use them to help throw harder and stay healthy.


In powerlifting the back squat is used because it is the method that allows you to lift the most weight which isn’t always a good thing.  What if I told said you still get the benefits of developing strong legs and hips while lifting less weight which would place you at a lower risk of hurting your back.  Would you be interested? If you end goal is producing results on the mound then your answer should be yes.

But if you are going to back squat remember to take your antropometrics into account like we see here comparing how leg length plays a role in “how” you squat.

Image result for squat mechanics

Here are a couple of my favourite options that are very challenging and can still be loaded up with lots of weight.  But the chances of turning it into something like the picture we saw earlier are reduced.

  • Front Squat
  • Double KB Front Squat
  • Safety Squat
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Here is an example of how strong you can get with the rear foot elevated split squat with two time Olympian Meghan Duggan.  Remember that the pitching delivery is initiated with just one leg on the ground which makes this exercise more specific.

Bench Press

This is one that gets thrown out the most in regards to the big 3.  Read this from a much smarter & experienced Eric Cressey to see why he’s doesn’t use the traditional bench press with most of his baseball players.

The long arms really play against you here.  Great bench presser’s have short arms and a big barrel chest which means that the bar doesn’t have to travel as far they to touch the chest like the rules of powerlifitng state.

Image result for bench press competition

The long arms with a narrower chest means that you have to move a lot further which is a disadvantage but it also puts you at risk of injury.  This longer path means that your elbow have to go a lot further past the level of the bench which pushes the humerus really far forward in the socket which isn’t a good thing.  So don’t worry the next time the guy that act’s as the “gym police” comes by and tells you that the bar has to touch your chest.

Image result for bench press

I realize that the guy in the second picture is using DB’s rather than a straight bar but you should get the idea of how we can restrict the depth.

Floor presses are a favourite of mine since it automatically restricts the depth.  Other than using this you just have to be aware of how far down you’re going.  Don’t go for that “deep stretch” feel.

Image result for floor press db


Deadlifitng is the one time it helps to have long limbs as can be seen in the picture below because you don’t have to go down as far to grab the barbell and your hips are in a more mechanically strong position.  In fact rumour has it that Lamar Grant, the first human to deadlift 5x his body weight, could scratch his knees while standing without having to bend over.  Go ahead, stand up and give that a try.

Image result for deadlift biomechanics

But just because you might have a physical advantage with the deadlift doesn’t mean that you should try to push the upper limits just to impress other people in the weight room.  Remember the goal is to impress people on the mound.

Here is a video that I put together for a team that I consulted with about how to Deadlift for baseball with some modifications and restrictions so that they could reduce the risk while maximize the rewards of this great lift.  As far a alternatives go check out this awesome single leg version demonstrated by a “Strong” Marcus Stroman.

This is a wonderful movement because it has such a high level of skill which makes it a self limiting exercise.  This means that you technique will fail and you won’t be able to lift more than you should.  These types of exercises are great for the young male population since we have been know to load up the bar with too much weight trying to impress other people.

So How Strong?

Great question.  Here are some numbers that I’ve come across in my research on track and field throwing.  These are just guidelines that these coaches have put in place to help them determine the amount of time and energy they spend on these lifts – guys that have met these standards focus on the faster end of the spectrum and technique to turn that force into more power.

Javelin – 800g/1.8lbs/29 oz (almost 6 times heavier than a baseball)

  • Squat – 2x Body Weight

Discus – 2kg/4.4lbs/70 oz (14 times heavier than a baseball)

  • Bench Press – 400lbs
  • Back squat: 450 lbs

Shot Put – 8kg/17.6lbs/280 oz (56 times heavier than a baseball)

  • Bench Press – 350lbs
  • Squat  – 450lbs

These types of athlete’s rely a lot more heavily on absolute strength so we can just look at these numbers as a reference but I don’t see why we would need more than this just based on the fact the we only use a 5 oz baseball.  Plus we have to spend a lot more time and energy working on the other components of the game like developing pitches, holding runners and fielding our position.

So here are some number’s that I think we can shoot for as minimum’s by the time the athlete is roughly 18-20 years old, both chronologically ad biologically.  If you aren’t at this level remember to take your time and don’t rush.  One of the best things about this type of strength is that it can be developed for a long time as you get older.  Meaning that as athlete’s get older they may loose little “spring in their step” but they can continue to get stronger which may be able to help compensate for the reduction of “springyness”.  Check out my article on elasticity to learn what “springyness” means.

If you watch the World’s Strong Man you don’t see some young phenom in his early 20’s killing it like you do in other sports.  That’s because strength takes time to build so even if you are “naturally” strong it is a process to build world class strength that we see these athlete’s produce.


I like to use checklist’s because they let you know if you are ready or not for the next level.  Ideally you have a  qualified S&C coach sign off on whether or not you had good enough technique (quality) to deserve going in in load (quantity).  I would look for 4-8 reps GOOD reps on each where you have to make it look easy before moving to next one – this goes for both the bench pressing and deadlifting checklist’s seen below.

  1. Body Weight Squat with Good Technique (quality first!!!)
  2. Goblet Squat w/ 50 lbs
  3. Goblet Squat w/ 85 lbs
  4. Front Squat w/ 135 lbs
  5. Anderson Front Squat w/ 135 lbs

Repeat number’s 4 & 5 in increments of 10 lbs all the way to 225 lbs & beyond!!  Remember to add in some rear foot elevated split squat’s – see if you can build up to match Meghan Duggan’s total of 160 lbs x 10 reps.

Bench Pressing

Remember that you won’t impress anybody with your bench press if you were born to throw plus it isn’t the greatest for your shoulder joint.  So here is my simple checklist.

  1. Pushup (quality first!!!)
  2. 1 arm Floor Press – feet wide (check out the picture earlier)
  3. 1 arm Floor Press – feet narrow
  4. Alt DB Press

repeat number’s 2-4 in increments of 5 lbs DB’s all the way to 70 lbs and beyond!!  But don’t abandon the pushup which can be loaded and progressed.


  1. Dowel Hinge (quality first!!!)
  2. Kettlebell Deadlift up to 32 kg
  3. Elevated Deadlift
  4. Deadlift from the Ground -see video

repeat number’s 3 & 4 in increments of 10 lbs all the way to 275 lbs & beyond!!!  Be sure to add in some of those single leg deadlifts too.  They can also add strength while making sure that you body is balanced.  Can you be as strong and smooth as Marcus Stroman and his 106 lbs in each hand?

The number’s that you build yourself up will differ from athlete to athlete their is no doubt that everyone needs some form of the big 3 in their program.  But the intensity, type and frequency will depend on so many things like:

  • limb length
  • mobility
  • injury history
  • age
  • training age
  • movement skill
  • time of year
  • ability to produce elastic energy
  • role on the team

There are more but this gives you an idea of why the prescription of “getting stronger” will be different for everyone.  If you want some help in trying to figure out what fits you then contact me at

Next we will check out the next portion of the force-velocity curve and the controversial use of Olympic Weight-lifting.

Graeme Lehman, MSC, CSCS

Welcome to Canada Nate Pearson!!!!

I wanted to be one of the first to welcome Nate Pearson and his 100+ mph fastball to Canada.  Nate is the HARD throwing right handed pitcher from the College of Central Florida that the Blue Jays picked up in the first round.  He’s the hardest throwing prospect the Jays have had since Noah Syndergaard, and hopefully we won’t trade this 100 mph for an aging knuckle ball. I’m still a little bitter about that trade not to mention that we also lost Travis D’Arnaud for Josh Thole.

Its going to be fun to add him to the mix of Blue Jay pitcher’s that I analyze to help communicate my ideas about customizing Mechanics and Training based on an athlete’s unique physical profile.   For the last year now I’ve been using Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez as example because its easy to see that these two are very different physically yet produce the same kind of stuff in regards to velocity.  In doing so I’ve created some hypothetical profiles for each of them based off of what I can see from studying them on TV since I’ve never had the honor of assessing them and their athletic ability directly.

What makes the addition of Nate Pearson so exciting for me is that he throws harder than both of these guys and the physical profile I have for Nate is real and not hypothetical.

This past year I was lucky enough to be consulting with the College of Central Florida Patriots which is where Nate played in 2017 after transferring from Florida International University.   The baseball sport scientist in me was really pumped that I was going t be able to see on paper (and video) what a guy who throw in the mid 90’s looks like after I ran him and this teammates through all sorts of testing and screening at the beginning of the season.


I will be following up with an article like I did last year on the DBacks 4th round selection Curtis Taylor who also throws really hard yet is very different from Nate despite the fact that they are both 6’6″.

Image result for college of central florida

Until then I just wanted to congratulate Nate and the coaching staff at College of Central Florida (Marty, Zach, Jon and Ryan) for all the hard work they did this past year in the weight room and on the field to help him become a better pitcher while also improving his velocity by 5+ mph which helped raise Nate’s stock immensely.

Welcome to Canada Nate


Graeme Lehman







Customized Mechanics – How Strong & How Fast??

How strong do you need to be to throw a baseball really, really hard?  This is a tricky question to answer since there are a lot of factors at play.

For example, I mentioned way back in the antropometrics article that you wouldn’t expect Aaron Sanchez to lift the same amount when bench pressing or squatting as you would Marcus Stroman due to their obvious physical differences.  To make things even more complicated the type of strength seen when lifting the max amount of weight with squatting or bench pressing represent only one of several types of strength that can be used to throw a baseball.

So in order to try to answer this question of how strong and what kind of strong you need to be to throw hard we’re going to first have to learn about these different types of strength.

This article will undoubtedly just be the first part of a 2-3 more discussing this part of the physical profile. The goal of this intro article is to help paint a clear picture about the different types of strength.

curtis profile

In the profile I’ve only listed four different types of athletic attributes/qualities that fall under the strength umbrella but there are more as you will see in next couple of graphs.  For my purposes of trying to make things a little be easier here are the types of strength I’ve listed in the profile:

  • strength (aka maximum strength)
  • strength-speed
  • speed-strength
  • speed (aka maximum velocity)

As you make your way down the list on my profile the weight being used gets lighter but the speed of the movement is faster which is seen here in a force-velocity curve.

Image result for force velocity curve

This 1102lbs deadlift seen below by strong man Eddie Hall would represent the extreme left side of this curve which takes about 6 seconds to complete.  The arm action of an Aroldis Chapman fastball with a 5 ounce ball would represent the other extreme.  But notice how I said that its just that final portion of the pitching delivery that’s going that fast.  If we were to focus on the first part of the delivery, where the rules states you have to start from a complete standstill (rule 8.01), you would be looking further to the left when we try to get our entire body moving towards home plate with off of just one leg.  So its important to look at the whole force curve to see how we can transition our way from the left to right as you deliver the ball.


I’ve used the race car transition analogy in the first article that started this series about customized mechanics over a year ago.  Check it out here.  To expand on this analogy a little more think of pitchers like as drag race cars.  They too must start from a complete standstill in 1st gear (max strength) then hit all the other gears along the way to max velocity like we see from the inside of the drag racer below shifting gears.  Pitchers do get the benefit of using a sloped mound which helps them get a rolling start which is why not every hard thrower you see out there has a good 1st gear.

The pitching delivery is really all about how you “shift gears” to maximize your top end speed when you release the ball.  But its also really important to see how fast we can go in each gear because you could be the best gear shifter in the world but if you don’t have any horsepower its relatively useless.

How Powerful Are Your Gears?

Determining how powerful (force x velocity) a player is at different points along the force curve isn’t that easy since we have to know how fast (velocity) the weight (force) is moving in order objectively and accurately determine the amount of power being produced.  Measuring the force is as easy as adding up the weight on a barbell but measuring the speed is a bit trickier since radar guns don’t do a great job of measuring barbell speed.  Fortunately there has been an influx of  affordable and accurate devices like PUSH which do allow us to measure the velocity.

Did Somebody Say Velocity?

The baseball world is obsessed with the velocity and our ears always perk up when we hear the “V” word. Here is what that curve looks like when we use velocity to categorize the different types of strength.  Just as a reference a 99 mph fastball is moving about 44 meters/second (m/s).

Image result for force velocity curve

Everyone has these gears but to be powerful its all about how much weight can you move at each speed. Finding out how well a player does in each category I think this is important because it can help us provide better training in the gym and advice/coaching cues for the mound.

There has been a recent surge in the strength and conditioning world with the use of what’s called velocity based training (VBT) because it has been shown to help deliver results.  Dr. Bryan Mann from the University of Missouri has been leading this charge of using velocity to help develop better training methods.

Dr Mann noticed that when he was training the football team the vertical jump scores did not improve when they used the heaviest loads while performing hang cleans.  The use of the heavy loads was at the request of the football coaches since they thought that this was important and wanted everyone’s hand clean max’s to go up.  The speed of the lifts when using these heavier loads was just too slow in the range of 0.6-0.8 m/s whereas jumping is a lot faster (1.4 m/s).

The next semester the focus shifted to bar speed rather than weight.  When the athletes had to meet the minimum requirements for speed when performing the hang clean the results for vertical jump scores were much higher.  This isn’t to say that working at lower or higher speeds doesn’t provide any benefits but it does highlight the principal of specificity.

If you want to learn more about VBT check out this great article by Jack Scheideman at Driveline or click here to read an article that Dr Mann wrote.

If you are really interested in this subject you should come visit me in Kelowna this July because Dr Bryan Mann himself is going to be presenting at this conference that my gym host’s every year.  Let me know if you want to come hear him and some other great presenter’s like

  • Jeremy Sheppard , Director at Canadian Sport Institute
  • Dr. Ramogida, Chiropractor and Performance Therapist Seattle Seahawks, UK Athletics, Altis

That will do it for the first article about the strength portion of the physical profile.  Next I will cover the individual types of strength starting with the heaviest and slowest part of the curve.

Graeme Lehman



Conditioning for Baseball That’s Not Running Poles!!!

This article below is a practical guide to a form of conditioning called High Intensity Continuous Training (HICT) that can be really helpful to the baseball athlete and if nothing else is way more effective that running poles.

In the past I’ve written about how long distance running can kill your velocity, check it out here. Conditioning however still needs to be done because it is very, very important so I wanted to provide a better alternative.  If you want to a team HICT workout example check out the second half of this article.


This type of conditioning perfectly suits baseball because they both require high amounts of power/intensity with short rest periods.  Think of a pitcher with a tough inning where they need to make a really good pitch to get out of a jam or limit any damage.  Sometimes pitch #32 of an inning is very important and it gets tough to produce the same levels of intensity when you have to do something as intense as throwing a baseball every 15-30 seconds.  This is where HCIT comes in handy.

It is also very simple – look at the gif below and just follow along for 5 minutes!!!

HCIT step ups

How to do it:

  • Take a powerful step every 2-3 seconds – alternating legs
  • 5 minute rounds x 3
  • Take 5 minutes of between rounds
  • If the power/intensity drops then stop
  • step up with enough power to produce a bit of a jump (3-6 inches)
  • make sure the leg that is on the step is providing most of the power
  • don’t push off too much with the leg that’s on the ground
  • you should be able to carry on a conversation – I don’t mean at you should talk the whole time but if you can string a sentence together than this is an indicator that you are in the “training zone” that you need to be in.


  • pick a step that is just below knee height
  • start to add load but don’t go past 40 lbs
  • when loading where a weighted vest or even a back pack with 10-20 lbs – holding weights can be tough on your forearm grip.
  • progress by going longer – don’t go past 12 minutes
  • add rounds – don’t go beyond 4 rounds
  • heavy resisted bike sprints can also work
  • Get a good playlist going because it is a little boring
  • get someone to do it along with you – misery loves company

Who does it help?

  • Injured pitchers:  if your arm hurts and you can’t throw pens or in games then this type of conditioning will work great to simulate a start.  Go through your pre-game routine minus the throwing and then do these as innings to keep your legs in “game shape”.
  •  This can help the player that can produce high amounts of power and speed but the numbers of times they can repeat it are limited.
  • It can also help the player that doesn’t lose any steam but just doesn’t produce enough power in the first place.  This type of athlete should however spend more time developing that overall power but when it comes to conditioning do this type.  You have to limit the conditioning they do so go with rounds that aren’t as long.

HICT for Teams

Conditioning at the end of a practice is common place at all levels of baseball.  What’s not common however is the fact that very few teams are actually doing conditioning that is going to help players improve their on-field performance.

Most of the time you will see conditioning take form in one of two ways:

1)long distance running which baseball has none of.  So that doesn’t make any sense to go really slow for really long when the game is all about long periods of no action (i.e rest) followed by short burst of explosive athleticism.

2) sprints – at least here we are performing running at higher intensities which we see in games.  But what happens here is that coaches want to “toughen up” or “build character” with short rests between long sprints making this type of conditioning really hard.  Remember that baseball has short bursts (the base’s are only 30 yards apart) with long breaks (approx 15-sec between pitches).

What should we do?

For me the answer relies in the form High Intensity Continuous Training and the best way to implement them is with circuits for both variety and athlete management.

These circuits require very short burst’s of energy with plenty of time in between to allow the rest that’s needed to achieve high intensity.  Without the rest there is no humanly way to keep intensity up.  If you are doing wind sprints with short rest periods it may feel like it is “intense” but slower speeds compared to your best when you are 100% rested would suggest otherwise.

Set Up & Execution

Pick as many stations as you need so that you have 5 players at each one.  Put the players in a single file line at each station and number them 1 through 5.  Instruct that all of the #1’s will go at the same time at their respective stations followed by the #2’s and so on.   After you complete a station you go to the back of the line at the next station and wait your turn.   If you don’t have a number that evenly divides up into 5 don’t make even groups of a lower number.   We want to ensure that there is adequate amount of rest to keep intensity up.  If you have 12 players for example put five players at stations A & B then the remaining two at station C an assigned them as #1 and #2 so that they know when its their turn.

Each player will perform 5 seconds of work or an assigned number of reps that can be done in 5 seconds.

On-Field Example

Here is an example of an on-field conditioning circuit that only requires a med ball, an old tire, a sledgehammer and a battling rope that can be purchased at most marine stores.

Here are the stations – look at the end of this article for a description of how to perform each exercise.:

  1. Battling Rope
  2. Med Ball Squat & Toss for Height
  3. Sledgehammer
  4. Half Kneeling Lateral Jumps

Every ten seconds one group will perform 5 seconds worth of exercise.  The remaining 5 seconds is used by the next group to get ready.

Perform 3 to 6 rounds continuously.  Each round is 3:20 if you stay exactly on schedule which makes 3 rounds exactly 10 minutes and 6 rounds is then 20 minutes.

The number of times that you go through depends on a number of factors such as:

  • amount of time you have in practice to dedicate to conditioning
  • How hard the preceding practice was (volume, intensity, temperature)
  • How long its been since you played a game
  • how long you have until your next game

Error on the side of caution and if the intensity levels are dropping then cut it short.  You should be able to tell the intensity based on jump distances as well as the height of the med ball throws assuming the players are still trying to be as powerful as possible.

The exercises shouldn’t cause a lot of soreness if any due to the fact that they are concentric based.   However don’t do this circuit for the first time if you have a meaningful game in the next day or two.

Potential Exercises:

  1. Rope:  Pick up the ropes and perform 10 explosive  and continuous reps of trying to make the rope wave as higher and as long as possible.  If you want to do this in an alternating fashion with the hands perform 10 reps each.
  2. Med Ball Squat & Throw for Height:  Hold the ball under your chin and squat down to throw the ball as high as you can with very little horizontal distance.  Work on transferring energy from your legs up through your body towards your arms which throw the ball as high as possible.  Transferring power from the lower body to the upper body is needed in both throwing and hitting and while this exercise looks like neither it does provide some positive carry over.
  3. Sledgehammer:  Perform three sledgehammer swings in a row with your right arm higher than your left.  One the next round through the station perform it the other way.
  4. Half Kneeling Jump – start in a half kneeling position with your left knee down on the ground.  From a completely stationary position drive off of your right leg and jump towards your left while landing on both feet like you would doing a standing long jump.  Go to the ground and jump back this time reversing the process by jumping off of your left leg to your right while landing again on both legs

This is just one example and there are ton of other fun variations that can be used.  Even using med ball throws and sled pushs/pull are also great ways to add some variety.

The buy in you get from players will be thousands more than running poles which means that you’ll have players that will try harder and moan less.