Tagged: exercise science

Tis’ the Season for Size & Strength

There is a magic formula for adding lots of muscle in order to become bigger and stronger and the three components are:

  1. Eat Lots of Food
  2. Get Lots of Rest
  3. Lift Lots of Heavy Weights

There is no better time for the college baseball player to take advantage of this size and strength formula then the holidays. Finals are over and you’re heading home to get some quality home cooking and catch up on all the sleep that has escaped you during the previous semester.  To make it even better aside from catching up with friends, family and buying some christmas gifts your days are relatively free to do as you wish.  So lets take advantage of these precious weeks and make some gains!!!

Let’s look at these elements individually.

1. Eat Lots of Food:  This is the easiest one since you will be heading home to your parents who will feed plus it is the time of year there’s always a surplus of food lying around.  We need to apply some rules here since we gain the right kind of weight.  The goal is to add extra muscle mass that will help us put more velocity on that ball whether you are throwing it or hitting it.

  • Protein First – this is the building block of muscle so ensure that you are eating this at each meal.  Try to ensure that most of o your protein comes in th form of real food like turkey and save your protein powder for certain times of the day like post workout – more on this later.

Gives you amino acids and makes you go to sleep – Perfect!!!

  • Go Nutty – we need a surplus of calories to add size and good fats in the form of nuts are great since they are calorie rich and good for you .  This time of they are typically lying around the house and various x-mas parties.  Try to stay away from peanuts (not an actual nut – it’s a legume) and focus on almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamia and pistachios.  These are great any time of the day except post workout.
  • Workout Nutrition – Follow this sequence when you lift weights
  1. Eat a meal 2 hours before the gym
  2. Mix a recovery shake that has at least 30 grams of carbs (sugars) and 20 grams of protein (whey) and start drinking this as you start your workout and finish before your done.
  3. Mix another recovery shake and drink it after you are done within 30 minutes of finishing your workout – try not to gulp it down but rather make it last for about 10 minutes as you get ready to leave he gym.
  4. About 60-90 minute after you finished your last rep consume a meal that has carbs and protein.  Turkey sandwich’s are great here.  Make sure they are real food items – no more shakes.
  5. Nap
  6. Continue to eat every 4 hours

Those are the basics but here are a couple of more tips on the nutrition side of things

  • Eat a minimum of five meals
  • take fish oils – just omega 3’s – 5-10 grams per day (Ascenta is your best brand here)
  • drink plenty of water – 5 liter minimum
  • Stay away from really sugary foods like those candies as much as you can.

#2 -Lots of Rest: When you sleep your body is very anabolic which means that it can build muscle.  The Cuban national weightlifting team is required to sleep 10 hours at night and take a 2 hour siesta in order to optimize their training.

Strong like bear means you must sleep like one

Your levels of growth hormone are at their highest about one hour into your deep sleep  If you follow baseball you have heard a lot of controversy about players taking illegal forms of growth hormone in order and you only have to ask Mr. Bonds about the benefits of growth hormone. We are going to do it the natural way by getting lots of restful sleep. Here are some tips for resting over the holidays

  • sleep in a very dark and slightly cool room
  • try to maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • take magnesium and zinc before bed – the supplement called ZMA is great for this but you can make your own with 20-30 grams of zinc, 400-500mg of magnesium and 10 mg of B6.  The crazy thing is that this supplement (ZMA) was developed by Victor Conte who ran BALCO – another link to Mr. Bonds.
  • Read some fiction before you go to bed – don’t stimulate your system with video games or ay electronics for that matter.  Gradually bring your system down by reading in order to keep that brain sharp for next semester – try something funny.
  • Static Stretch – besides being good for overall mobility and preventing injury going through a series of stretches will also bring your system down a couple of notches.  Be sure to hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds to tell your muscles that it is time to relax.
  • Nap – when you take your siesta be sure that you do it right and find a place that you can lie down in a dark and quite room.  On days that you lift try to time your nap after your workout.  Go for either less than 30 or more than 90 minutes due to our natural sleep cycle.  If possible go for the more than 90min.
  • Chill Out – the holidays can be crazy which can cause us to stress and become catabolic which makes our bodies eat away at muscle and store fat.  Avoid stressful situations and enjoy the time with friends and family.

#3 – Lift Lots of Heavy Weights :This is the only stress that I want you to place on your body over the holidays because it is what sets in motion this “cascade of events” that will make your body build more muscle.  I am not going to go into exactly what you should do in the weight room since that goes well beyond the scope of this article but below are some guidelines.  If you need a program for the holidays or anytime of year contact me at: graeme.lehman@gmail.com

Your only “stress” over the holidays

  • Lift heavy weights – the only way to make your body add muscle (which it naturally doesn’t want to do) is stress it with heavy weights.  We will back off with an “easy” but for now push your body and its ability to be strong.
  • Hit large muscle groups – squats, deadlifts, presses and rows should dominate your program
  • Frequency – lift often but not too often – 3-4 days per week should be good
  • Get in and get out – treat your lifting session like a job since it is the only thing that you have to do over the holidays.  If you are in the gym for more than 60 minutes you are making friends and not gains.

Follow these basic components and you will slap on muscle that if nothing else will help you fill out your uniform better. Graeme Lehman


Exercise Science 101 – Part 3 – Repeat

#3 – Repeat

The word repeat means  that you need to be consistent.  You have to apply the other principals from part 1 (stress) and part 2 (relax) over and over again for years to truly achieve your athletic potential.


Webster’s Definition of the word “Consistent”

Obey the Law – The Natural Law

If we want to get stronger and more powerful then we have to respect the laws of nature.  It would be silly if a farmer planted seeds one day then expected full grown crops a day, a week or even a month later.  So why do some people think that once they hit the gym their muscles are gonna grow over night?

Farmer’s work hard every day to tend to these seeds with water, nutrients, sunlight and rest so that they can reach their full potential and grow big and stronger.  Plants sleep too!!

So if you want your muscles to grow bigger and stronger you have to apply these same principals.  You have to plant the seed with the stress of a workout then you have to provide your muscles with water, nutrients, sun light (vitamin D is very important) and some rest,

Unfortunately some players have tried to break this natural law and had to pay the price.

Time is on your side

Once you have come to the realization that the size and strength of your muscles can’t change as drastically overnight it becomes a question of time and consistency.


You can become a Big League Athlete but it will take time, hard work and smart work.

Graeme Lehman

Exercise Science 101 – Part 2 – Rest

#2 – Rest

Part one of this series looked at “stress” while part two will look at  the “rest” portion of the fitness formula.

“Stress” and “Rest” can be likened to the Yin and Yang of ancient Chinese Philosophy.

baseball ying yang
Yin & Yang = Rest & Stress

We have all seen this symbol and how it represents balance between these two equal but opposite forces – a balance that must be respected if you want to achieve higher levels of fitness.

If you have too much stress/yang and not enough rest/yin you will beat yourself up and tear your body down – this is no good.

too much stress

But if you provide too much rest/yin and not enough stress/yang you’re body will not positively adapt and will become fatter and lazier.

There is a basic concept in exercise that you must learn to accept otherwise you will be literally wasting your time and effort in the gym.  The concept is that we DO NOT get bigger, faster and stronger during our workouts but rather the time between them.  Tough to grasp I know but keep following along.

The stress you place on yur body during your workout just gets the ball rolling towards your goals of becoming more powerful baseball player.  If you give your body a chance to rest we just have to rely on our body’s natural ability to adapt so we are better prepared to meet the demands of this stress if we come across it again.  This is why we can progressively lift heavier weigh we have conditioned our body to do so.  In the world of Exercise Physiology this model is either called “Super compensation” or “Fitness Fatigue”.

Fitness Fatigue Model

These two models are slightly different from one another but they both basically state your body will improve its fitness level following a stress if you give it the chance.  The rest that you provide your body then becomes vitally important if you want to make positive gains.

Bottom line

Follow your workouts up with periods of relaxation.  Food and sleep are two of our best weapons to make the most out of our recovery time between workouts. Don’t forget about all the other distresses in our lives – if you can learn how to handle them, you will be well on your way to seeing the results that you want.

working hard on his resting

Take home points

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Go to bed before midnight
  • Don’t watch tv or look at a computer screen 30 minutes before bed
  • Take a breath with Epsom salt (form of magnesium that helps muscles relax)
  • Make sure all your school work is done (another form of stress you need to control)
  • Have a post workout drink with carbs and protein to start the recovery process as soon as possible.
  • Try taking an adaptogen in the form of a Ginseng to help your body cope.
  • Try breathing exercises

Graeme Lehman

Exercise Science 101 – Part 1 – Stress

This is the first of a three part series on the basics of exercise.  The fitness industry has done a phenomenal job of complicating things and confusing people but it is my mission to break down all the geeky science and fitness myths into “Layman’s Terms” so you can succeed with whatever your fitness goals may be.

If want to create a body that is capable of pumping ut big league power then you have to follow this simple 3 step formula:

  1. Stress your body– provide a physical stress to your body that is just beyond what you are capable of doing.
  2. Rest your body- let your body repair, grow and adapt to the stress.
  3. Repeat – be consistent

That is basically it ladies and gentlemen; everything you read about exercise can be classified into one of these three categories.  While there are of course a lot of finer details that I will discuss in further articles about these three basic components I will just focus on the fundamental principles for now.

#1 – Stress – Build Legendary Strength

Willie Mays Kneeling on Ground

The legend of Milo of Croton is the old story of a  in weight lifting and illustrates the point of stress and how it builds strength.  The legend states that as a young man Milo lifted and carried a newborn calf on his shoulders while walking around and he continued to pick up and carry this calf everyday as the calf grew into maturity forcing his body to become stronger.  The story culminates with Milo walking into the Olympic stadium carrying a full grown bull over his head.


This story represents a principal in the exercise science world called progressive overload.  This principal, first identified by Dr. Thomas Delorme, requires a gradual increase in volume, frequency, intensity or time in order to produce a positive adaptation such as decreased fat stores and increased muscle.

The tough part about this progressive overload principal is that you have to push your body beyond its limits because if you don’t, your body will not make any changes.

db rack

Start on the top row and progress to the bottom (don’t forget about the middle row and technique for each rep too!!)

The bottom line is you are going to have to work hard and keep pushing yourself to get to where you want to be. Stop judging your workouts on how sweaty you are or how sore your muscles are the next day.  To see if you are on the right path just simply ask yourself if you did better than the last time you did that workout.  If the answer is “Yes” then congratulations you just had a great workout and are on your way.  It is beyond the scope of this article but there will be times that you will have to purposely underachieve in order to make bigger gains but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

The path towards your goals is simple but it’s not easy.