There is a magic formula for adding lots of muscle in order to become bigger and stronger and the three components are:
- Eat Lots of Food
- Get Lots of Rest
- 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.
- 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
- Eat a meal 2 hours before the gym
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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: email@example.com
- 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
#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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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
Baseball is one of the most powerful sports earth. Hitting and throwing are two of the most explosive actions that you’ll find in any sport. Despite this some people don’t consider baseball to be a sport that requires a lot of athletic ability to be successful.
This stereotype is a result of the fact that baseball is game that places a high demand of skill. Skills like hitting a round ball squarely with a round bat or the skill to make a ball look like it’s coming faster than it is just to have it fad away at the last possible second. High levels of these types of skills can help you compensate for a lack of other skills such as athletic ability, after all if you are very skilled at hitting your ability to run doesn’t matter much.
This is part of the reason that those who play baseball can be described as a “ball player” or as an “athlete”. The ball player might have a lot of skill such as hand eye coordination but may lack speed or strength while the athlete posses plenty of speed and strength but is deficient in the skill side of the game such as fielding, hitting or pitching.
Even with the pitching position some guys are known as good throwers will others are “pitchers”
The five tool player
For the non baseball fans out there a “Five Tool Player” is a term used to describe a player that has all of the necessary abilities to excel at the game of baseball – someone that can do it all.
The Five Baseball Tools are:
- Hit for Power
- Hit for Average
These types of players are a rare breed and every coach wants a roster full of them because they are have an ideal combination of athlete and ball player. Some examples of some “Five Tool Players” include Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey Jr to name a few.
Are you more of an athlete or a ball player?
Should you concentrate on your ball player or athletic skills right now?
It is in our nature to work on what we are already good at and avoid what we are not good.
For the most part young baseball players that have been playing every summer day for the last 5 plus years have spent a lot of time and energy building their ball player skills by taking tons ground ball and BP (batting practice). Running around and playing catch does provide the benefit of building some athletic skill but it does not do provide as much upside or benefit that occurs when you focus on improving your:
These happen to be my 5 athletic tools
One of the challenges that occurs when you start playing higher levels of baseball is that there is less time to focus on building your athletic skills in the off-season because there just isn’t as much off-season. This is too bad because this is the time when you should be focusing on becoming a better athlete in order to bring your game up to the next level.
Not only will a strength and conditioning program provide you with more speed and strength but a smart program will increase your chances of avoiding injuries which could sideline you and it is impossible to get better when you are hurt.
Your Athletic Skill Resource
Baseball is evolving and today’s game demands that in order to play at the top-level you must have a lot of skill, both baseball and athletic. And it is the purpose of this blog to help improve your athletic skills.
Be sure to check back to this blog on a regular basis in order to learn more and more about how you can improve your athletic skills and avoid injury.
Check back in the archives to see the off-season program that was listed which is a great place to start.