Coach? Why Are We Doing This?

A recent article “Are Leg Strength and Power Important to Baseball Pitching?“, written by Chris Beardsley and endorsed by Mike Reinold, raised my eyebrows a bit. The research articles he presents to answer his question are the same articles I used last year while writing the pitchers portion of my baseball program for the University of North Dakota. It is very gratifying to know that the time I spent on making sure my program was evidence based and backed by scientific research was well spent.

UND BSB '12-'13

Since starting my career as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, it has been very important for me to make sure that the programs I was writing and coaching were backed by scientific research or evidence based. For the strength and conditioning field, evidence based means “a systematic approach to the training of athletes and clients based on the current best evidence from peer-reviewed research and professional reasoning” (Chris Beardsley). I’ve been fortunate to be around some great coaches and very intelligent professors and they are always preaching the same thing, “make sure its evidence based.” There are many reasons why this is and I will present a few that are important to me. The first is very obvious, you want to use things that are proven to work. Sometimes this is not possible if your creating something new, but you would be hard pressed to find an exercise that didn’t have some sort of similar movement in it that hasn’t been researched. Secondly, evidence based allows me the ability to see what kind of results the researchers attained and be able to compare and contrast my results. This makes it very easy and systematic to incorporate or throw away parts of a training program. Lastly, I always want to be able to speak to my  program and be able to back it up when questioned by my peers, athletes or interested parties. If I can’t do this, then where does my credibility go?

The strength and conditioning field is rapidly growing and new research is coming out at a feverish pace. This presents more and more opportunities to find new information, learn, and become a better educated coach. Will I ever know it all?…absolutely not. There is so much information out there and new research coming out daily, so I’m not afraid to say that I don’t know something. However, by staying humble and knowing that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new, I’ll always be getting better.

The great thing about using evidence based research is that it can be used everywhere! In fitness and health, you can use it when determining what type of fitness program to fit your goals, what exercises to include in your workouts, what supplements you should or shouldn’t take, or even what kinds of pre/post foods you should consume.

Try it out. When your making your next training or life decision, try using evidence based thinking and you might end up making a more logical decision that works to your benefit in many ways.

Hiking the Moonlight Trail

Katie and I decided to take the afternoon and go for a short hike on our trip in Arizona. We didn’t really know what to expect and took our time taking in the sites and the sun.  We were able to get outside, enjoy the sites, spend some time together, and burn about 1000 calories in a fun way. Only a very select breed of people will want to get a workout or “exercise” on vacation so I will say to try and at least get some physical activity in. Getting some sort of physical activity on a trip, especially one that changes time zones, is a great way to help acclimate and kick the jet lag quickly. Go for a walk on a beach, rent a bike to ride around town or walk more when you shop. I highly recommend getting out and hiking if your in an area that allows it as well!

Moonlight Trail Hike

mmmm…Kabobs

Great way to cut any unnecessary crap from the diet for the night and still get protein and not have to eat low fat, no carbs, no sugar, low cal cardboard! Key component: the grilling. If you can’t grill, be sure to have someone who can. I am effective with the grill but Casey is legit, the grill master.

Kabobs

To Do or Not To Do…Weightlifting or Powerlifting

I always seem to think about powerlifting and weightlifting. Which one is my favorite, which can give me the best results, should I do a little bit of both or one or the other? I’m sure there are many who would say that I could do both. If you said that too me, you’d be right.  I neither want to be a competitive Olympic lifter nor a powerlifter. My goals are to stay physically fit and healthy, long enough to play with my future grand-kids into my late age. For many men though, they want to have the combination strength of Stan Efferding and the fitness of Rich Froning. Unfortunately, 99.999% of the population will never be anywhere near any of these men.

It all comes down to specificity. Do you want to be on an elite level at either of these? If that’s the case, then you most certainly will be dedicating your life to one or the other. The specificity of training that is necessary is what really separates the two from being nearly impossible to be accomplished both at the same time. Before the 1960’s you did have a few men who took part in both. These are the rare exceptions though, like Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson, and Dave Ashman. In the current days you can look at Shane Hamman or Mark Henry  who both transitioned from either side of the spectrum. Like I said though, these men are rare exceptions to be able to be at an elite level on either side after transitioning.

The stresses of training and hours spent perfecting technique are extremely important factors in this topic. Almost all seasoned powerlifters will not have the shoulder flexibility to catch a snatch at the top. Olympic lifts require rapid high force output along with high contraction velocities and very limited time in an eccentric contractile state, whereas the powerlifts need a controlled and slow eccentric contraction to keep the body tight and then a rapid and powerful concentric contraction to lift the weight. The amount of  volume and sets powerlifters place on there body really takes a toll on there flexibility and mobility as they develop. Imagine a competitive powerlifter trying to snatch 120kg. It’s very rarely going to happen and very rarely will it happen with good technique.

Like I stated above, I don’t have the ambition to be in the Olympics or a top powerlifter in my weight class. What I do have the ambition to do though is to combine both into my programs. I take into consideration the periodization and programming of these training styles to fit my needs. I firmly believe that athletes must develop and have a base of absolute strength (powerlifting) before they move on to more strength-speed training (Olympic lifts).  The same belief is what I create my own personal training around in order to be well rounded, strong, powerful, and have explosiveness. I will always rely on that belief of having absolute strength in the core lifts and the tools to complete the Olympic lifts (coordination, explosiveness, speed, timing, speed-strength) in my life and the lives of others I have the opportunity to work with.

By no means are these the only two types of training programs that I use for myself. I enjoy mixing in and cycling bodybuilding, metabolic circuits, tabata, and other types of training into my program. It keeps my workouts challenging and FUN. It’s always a personal goal of mine to work on my weaknesses and if a certain workout can not accomplish this, I’m ok with moving on and trying something else. It goes back to my goal of being well-rounded.

 

This is such a large topic and one that can be expressed in many ways. This is nowhere near my full opinion on the topic, that would take way to long, but it gives you some basic insight into my thoughts and possibly make you think about what your actually training for and how you can approach it.

 

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Kendrick Farris
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Matt “Kroc” Kroczaleski

 

 

Video Blast: ’12-’13 UND Baseball Team

In honor of the University of North Dakota baseball teams fall season Blue Moose Classic, I wanted to re-post the video the team was showcased in last spring before the kickoff of the 2013 season. They worked extremely hard and bought into my system last year and it was a very successful year both for them and for me. Under there new strength and conditioning coach, Ben SaariBovre, they will continue to rise. Lift Heavy and Lift Often!!

UND Baseball 2012-2013