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Archive for the ‘baseball strength and conditioning’ Category

Ankle Mobility – Is it REALLY That Important?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

There’s lots of reasons I respect Eric Cressey as a strength coach.

First and foremost is the fact that he is STRONG. Guy deadlifts over 600-lbs, despite the fact that he’s not a genetic freak or anywhere near 300lbs. RESPECT.

But the biggest reason is his ability to see deeper, and analyze possible solutions to problems, ASIDE FROM what everyone else sees.

I don’t like to bag on the Fitness Industry. I think that happens far too often.

The problem is not the industry itself, but rather, the bad apples spread throughout it that tend to spoil the proverbial bunch.

Every so often, a new buzz word or catch phrase comes out, and you can just see the Johnny-come-lately’s ready to to swoop in, pick up on the new terms, and use them like they thought of them.

In the video below, Eric Cressey touches on one of these such buzz words, “Ankle Mobility.”

He’s a bit more diplomatic than me in the way he covers this topic, as you’ll see when you watch the video, and he may even make you question your previosu thoughts about ankle mobility and how it influences movement patterns, such as the Squat.

Like Eric points out, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

This attention to detail is why I trust him so much.

This week, Cressey has dropped the price on one of his most popular products, the High Performance Handbook, by $50.


So for the next few days you can add this to your library at a much lower investment.

Eric Cressey is one of the best strength coaches in the world. If you’re a budding strength coach and you’re looking for someone to follow, Eric is the man, and High Performance Handbook is a great place to start.

Get it today. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

All the best,


The High Performance Handbook Right Now $50 Off

Interview: Grip and Forearm Training for Baseball Players

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I was recently interviewed by Mart Brooks of regarding grip and forearm training to increase performance and prevent injuries. Check it out below:

Want to improve your grip and wrist strength in order to hit more home runs, get more hits, strike out less, and just plain hit the ball harder next season?

Then what are you waiting for? The time to put in the work is right now.

My Ultimate Forearm Training System will get you there.

Why You’re Not Getting Stronger

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Around here, the kids are all back in school and they have the whole year ahead of them.

There’s tons of excitement as they look forward to the many possibilities and potential for the year.

I still remember my Senior year, when I said I was going to not play basketball (which I pretty much hated) and just concentrate on baseball.

I wanted to go into the school weight room three days a week and put on some serious muscle, because I was 6-feet tall and about 200-lbs, but thought for sure with hard work I could put on some muscle and show up for my Freshman Year in college looking like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

While I never ended up looking like Mark or Barry, I did end up putting on some muscle and planting the seeds that would grow into a life-long interest in weight training.

Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t realize some of the things these guys were doing and taking in order to get so freakish. I also didn’t realize that there was a difference between training for size and for training with strength. I just went in there and did what I read about in bodybuilding magazines and didn’t understand the importance of proper loading and rep schemes in order to get stronger. If finding a balance between muscle gains and improvements in strength levels is something that you struggle with, then today’s article is perfect for you.

Today’s post comes from Eric Cressey. Eric is probably best known for his work with professional baseball players at his facility in Connecticut, Cressey Performance, but he is also know for his work in the arena of fitness and especially the field of strength & conditioning. His knowledge blows me away and he is one of the few professionals in the field I subscribe to. Every article, video and product he puts out is GOLD. Possibly his most well-recognized work, Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look Feel and Move Better is on sale for this week only for $50 off the regular price.

Enjoy today’s post from this world class author, speaker coach, and lifter.

5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Stronger

By: Eric Cressey

Like most lifters, I gained a lot of size and strength in my first 1-2 years of training in spite of the moronic stuff that I did. Looking back, I was about as informed as a chimp with a barbell – but things somehow worked out nonetheless. That is, however, until I hit a big fat plateau where things didn’t budge.

Truthfully, “big fat plateau” doesn’t even begin to do my shortcomings justice. No exaggeration: I spent 14 months trying to go from a 225-pound bench to 230. Take a moment and laugh at my past futility (or about how similar it sounds to your own plight), and we’ll continue.

All set? Good – because self-deprecating writing was never one of my strengths. I have, however, become quite good at picking heavy stuff off the floor – to the tune of a personal-best 660-pound deadlift at a body weight of 188.

Eric Cressey, 660-lb Deadlift

My other numbers aren’t too shabby, either, but this article isn’t about me; it’s about why YOU aren’t necessarily getting strong as fast as you’d like. To that end, I’d like to take a look at a few mistakes people commonly make in the quest to gain strength. Sadly, I’ve made most of these myself at some point, so hopefully I can save you some frustration.

Mistake #1: Only doing what’s fun and not what you need.

As you could probably tell, deadlifting is a strength of mine – and I enjoy it. Squatting, on the other hand, never came naturally to me. I always squatted, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it took the back seat to pulling heavy.

Eventually, though, I smartened up and took care of the issue – by always putting squatting before deadlifting in all my lower-body training sessions (twice a week). I eventually wound up with a Powerlifting USA Top 100 Squat in my weight class.

More interestingly, though, in addition to me dramatically improving my squat, a funny thing happened: I actually started to enjoy squatting. Whoever said that you can’t teach an old dog (or deadlifter) new tricks didn’t have the real scoop.

Mistake #2: Not taking deload periods.

One phrase of which I’ve grown quite fond is “fatigue masks fitness.” As a little frame of reference, my best vertical jump is 37.3” – but on most days, I won’t give you anything over 34” or so. The reason is very simple: most of your training career is going to be spent in some degree of fatigue. How you manage that fatigue is what dictates your adaptation over the long- term.

On one hand, you want to impose enough fatigue to create supercompensation – so that you’ll adapt and come back at a higher level of fitness. On the other hand, you don’t want to impose so much fatigue that you dig yourself a hole you can’t get out of without a significant amount of time off.

Good programs implement strategic overreaching follows by periods of lighter training stress to allow for adaptation to occur. You can’t just go in and hit personal bests in every single training session.

Mistake #3: Not rotating movements.

It never ceases to amaze me when a guy claims that he just can’t seem to add to his bench press (or any lift, for that matter), and when you ask him what he’s done to work on it of late, and he tells you “bench press.” Specificity is important, but if you aren’t rotating exercises, you’re missing out on an incredibly valuable training stimulus: rotating exercises.

While there is certainly a place for extended periods of specificity (Smolov squat cycles, for instance), you can’t push this approach indefinitely. Rotating my heaviest movements was one of the most important lessons I learned along my journey. In addition to helping to create adaptation, you’re also expanding your “motor program” and avoiding overuse injuries via pattern overload.

I’m not saying that you should overhaul your entire program with each trip to the gym, but there should be some semi-regular fluctuation in exercise selection. The more experienced you get, the more often you’ll want to rotate your exercises (I do it weekly). Assistance exercises ecan be shuffled every four weeks, though.

Mistake #4: Inconsistency in training.

I tell our clients from all walks of life that the best strength and conditioning programs are ones that are sustainable. I’ll take a terrible program executed with consistency over a great program that’s only done sporadically. This is absolutely huge for professional athletes who need to maximize progress in the off-season; they just can’t afford to have unplanned breaks in training if they want to improve from year to year. However, it’s equally important for general fitness folks who don’t have an extensive training background to fall back on, unlike the professional athletes.

If a program isn’t conducive to your goals and lifestyle, then it isn’t a good program. That’s why I went out of my way to create 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week strength training options – plus five supplemental conditioning options and a host of exercise modifications – when I pulled Show and Go together; I wanted it to be a very versatile resource.

Likewise, I wanted it to be safe; a program isn’t good if it injures you and prevents you from exercising. Solid programs include targeted efforts to reduce the likelihood of injury via means like mobility warm-ups, supplemental stretching recommendations, specific progressions, fluctuations in training stress, and alternative exercises (“plan B”) in case you aren’t quite ready to execute “Plan A.”

For me personally, I attribute a lot of my progress to the fact that at one point, I actually went over eight years without missing a planned lift. It’s a bit extreme, I know, but there’s a lesson to be learned.

Mistake #5: Wrong rep schemes

Beginners can make strength gains on as little as 40% of their one-rep max. Past that initial period, the number moves to 70% – which is roughly a 12-rep max for most folks. Later, I’d say that the number creeps up to about 85% – which would be about a 5-rep max for an intermediate lifter. This last range is where you’ll find most people who head to the internet for strength training information.

What they don’t realize is that 85% isn’t going to get the job done for very long, either. My experience is that in advanced lifters, the fastest way to build strength is to perform singles at or above 90% of one-rep max with regularity. As long as exercises are rotated and deloading periods are included, this is a strategy that can be employed for an extended period of time. In fact, it was probably the single (no pun intended) most valuable discovery I made in my quest to get stronger.

I’m not saying that you should be attempting one-rep maxes each time you enter the gym, but I do think they’ll “just happen” if you employ this technique.

To take the guesswork out of all this and try some programming that considers all these crucial factors (and a whole lot more), check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look Feel and Move Better.

-Eric Cressey-

6 Killer Tips to Improve Your Deadlift

Monday, July 16th, 2012

This is a guest post from Joe Meglio. Joe is the head strength coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison NJ and works with athletes, strength enthusiasts, and fitness clients on a daily basis. Joe was voted #1 Rising Star it Fitness and deadlifted over 3 Times Bodyweight at the age of 20.

How to Improve Your Deadlift

by Joe Meglio

I don’t claim to know everything in the world of strength training, but if there is one thing that I know best, it is the deadlift. While I am not the best deadlifter in the world, I have put up some respectable numbers. At the age of 20 and bodyweight of 196 1/2 I pulled 600, 3 X my bodyweight.

The deadlift is truly the king all lifts because it works every single muscle in your body. It is the ultimate test of raw strength. Before you learn how you can improve your deadlift, let’s go over how to deadlift.

If you want to learn how you can shatter personal records and earn the respect you deserve from other strength coaches, lifters and friends check out these 6 deadlift tips below to start deadlifting like a champion.

600-lb Deadlift at 196.5-lb BW

1- Increase Deadlift Frequency

Dan John, once said if you want to get good at something then do it everyday. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating loading up the bar with 5 plates and deadlift every day BUT simply put, if you want to get good at anything start doing it more often.

This holds true especially for beginner and intermediate athletes who need to learn all the intricacies of the deadlift. The best results I’ve seen in the deadlift came while having one heavy deadlift day and on the second lower body day, focusing on speed deadlifts and learning to apply as much force as possible to the bar.

Generally speaking, the stronger you are the less often you can deadlift. Somebody who deadlifts 600, 700 + lbs will need a lot more time in-between deadlift workouts compared to somebody who is pulling 300 or 400lbs because their outputs are much higher and thus need more time to recover. Nonetheless, increasing frequency of the deadlift will help ingrain great technique and help you progressively get stronger over time.

2-Attack Your Weakness

Finding your sticking point in the deadlift is critical. There are 3 general areas when the deadlift will break down: off the floor, mid range and at lockout.

Weak off the Floor: If you are weak off the floor, focusing on the posterior chain, more specifically the hamstrings, will be critical to being strong off the floor because you need to be able to load up your hamstrings before you pull. If you fail to do this, your deadlift and strength off the floor will suffer.

Here are my top 5 lifts to help improve strength off the floor:

1) Deficit deadlifts
2) Speed deadlifts
3) GHR
4) Good mornings

Weak at the Mid-Range: If you are weak at the mid-range area, focus on training your back like a beast. Not just your upper and middle back but also your lower back is critical.

Here are my Top 6 back exercises for those who have weakness in the mid-range of the deadlift.

1) Chest supported rows
2) 1 arm rows
3) Barbell rows
4) Pull-ups
5) Barbell back extensions
6) Low rack pulls

Weak at Lockout: If you are weak at lockout focus on improving glute strength and grip strength. The glutes are critical to extending the hips and finishing the deadlift. Without strong and powerful glutes, you will have a hard time finishing the deadlift.

Here are my top 3 go to exercises to build strong glutes and finish the deadlift strong:

1) Barbell Glute Bridge
2) Barbell Hip Thrusts
3) RDL’s

3-Drop the Bar Between Reps

A lot of lifters and coaches don’t like deadlifts because it takes too long to recover from them. Instead of scrapping the deadlift, try dropping the bar in-between reps. Most injuries happen during the eccentric part of the lift so avoiding it is a good way to improve your ability to recover from the deadlift.

If you are a competitive powerlifter you will have to lower the bar to the ground but you can start dropping the bar for your assistance exercises.

4-Perfect Your Technique

Learning proper technique is important for not only safety reasons but also performance. While there are many different ways to setup, just find what works for you best and something that you can repeat every time you deadlift.

Here is your 6 step process to deadlifting like a champion:

  • Start with a vertical jump stance and the bar over the midline of your foot (for conventional stance lifters)
  • Sit your butt back and down until you hands reach the bar
  • Make sure your hamstrings are loaded up, back is neutral and neck is packed
  • Fill your belly with air, pull the slack out to create tension on your lats
  • Squeeze the bar off the ground by leading with your chest and driving your feet down through the ground
  • Once the bar passes your knees, snap and squeeze your glutes at the top

Practice your technique often. Make sure it is ingrained in your head and always try to improve it.

5-Find out What Stance Works Best for YOU

There are two different deadlift stances: sumo deadlifts or conventional deadlifts. Common knowledge would tell you that the sumo deadlift is easier because the bar path is shorter but this isn’t always the case. If you are built like me, longer arms, average legs and a shorter torso you are more built for the conventional deadlift.

Lifters who are good squatters and benches will lift with a sumo stance because generally speaking they have shorter arms and legs but a longer torso. The only way to truly know which stance you are stronger with is to experiment with both stances and see what works best for you.

6-Train Your Back Like a Beast

One of the big things that took my deadlift from 500lbs to 600lbs was how much stronger my back got. The back muscles are critical for stabilization during the deadlift and it is almost impossible to deadlift a lot of weight without having a back built like a beast.

Here are 5 awesome back exercises that you need to be doing:
1) Pull-ups
2) 1 arm DB rows
3) Chest supported rows
4) T Bar Rows
5) Bent Over Rows

And there you have it, 6 killer deadlift tips. If you want to shatter personal records and skyrocket your deadlift, start using these tips right now. Remember, the deadlift is more then just a great lift, it is your ticket to earning your man card and earning the respect you deserve.

P.S You can have instant access to my ‘Lift Like A Man’ 12 Week Muscle & Strength Building Course along with 4 Killer bonuses for ONLY $27 (total value of $163). You have to act fast this sale ends in 3 days.

Grip and Forearm Training to Prevent Injuries

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Over the weekend, one of the biggest headlines in the baseball world was that of Andrew McCutchen, center-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, having to leave the game Saturday versus the Cardinals, shortly after making a diving play in the outfield.

This news makes most Pirates fans shake when they lay down at night because McCutchen is one of the best players on the team and the team is having one its best years in recent history. Losing McCutchen could spell certain doom for the team as they are knee-deep in a pennant race with the Cincinnatti Reds, going into the mid-point of the season.

McCutchen did not leave the game right away, toughing out two more at-bats after rolling his wrist, but you could tell that it was seriously bothering him as he swung the bat due to the pain etched on his face. That’s never good. McCutchen had to sit out Sunday’s game as well, but as of writing has not been placed on the disabled list.

This is exactly the type of injury that players and coaches dread. McCutchen is highly athletic and plays aggressively all the time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the dive, even after making the play, McCutchen’s glove rolled beneath his body somewhat and most likely either strained some soft tissue or knocked something out of alignment in his wrist.

Plus, when you hurt your hand or wrist in baseball, if it doesn’t get fixed right away, it will be there for everything you do. And it might not hurt so bad that it keeps you from playing, but it will be right there hiding and every so often bite you again when you swing the back, move your glove in a weird angle, or push the gate open to go to the plate. Eventually, it gets into your head and even though it doesn’t hurt bad it still distracts you.

When it comes to injuries, they are always best avoided. Unfortunately when you have a spirited player such as McCutchen, who readily puts his body on the line for the benefit of his team, diving, rolling, sliding hard into bases, and breaking up players, trauma such as this can happen sometimes.

For that reason, for baseball players who want to play hard and put up the big statistics as well, it is important to do everything possible to bullet-proof the body. For the forearms, wrists and hands, here are some simple exercises that you can start implementing in your training right away that will hit your lower arms from all angles and start turning your hands into iron.

Hammer Rotations

When swinging the bat, if you want to maximize your power, you have to have serious forearm strength to turn the bat. So for this one, we will target the muscles that rotate the forearm: the supinator, pronator, and others that support this movement.

For this one, you’ll need either a sledge hammer, axe, or some other long device to create leverage. Grip the hammer about half way down the handle. Start with the hammer head veritcal and from there, slowly rotate the hammer under control in both directions.

This video shows you a couple of variations of Sledge Hammer Rotations:

Plate Clamp Press

When squeezing the glove, the fingers do not ball up like a fist, they actually do a motion that is called clamping where the finger tips move toward the base of the palm. It is important to include this type of Grip training in your routine in order strengthen this movement correctly.

In order to strengthen your Clamping Grip, you will need four ten pound plates. Put them together in pairs with the smooth sides out. Wrap your fingers over the top of the plates and clamp them tightly into your palm. Now, perform a pressing movement overhead until you can feel the plates want to fall out. At that point, terminate the set, rest the hands for 30 seconds to a minute and then hit more reps.

Two tens is generally the thickness that works best for most people. To increase the weight by adding another dime can make it too large to fit in your hand, so if two tens is too light, try adding a chain through the center of the plates in order to add more resistance.

A couple ways to perform the Plate Clamp Press:

Pony Clamp Pinching

The thumb is an often neglected part of the hand, but it is very important to include it in your Grip training. One of the best ways is using a Pony Clamp. These are available at many hardware stores and even some dollar stores. I like the ones with flat handles the best.

Grip the Pony Clamp with one handle on the finger side and one on the thumb side and try to touch the handles together. You can perform this exercise for maximum reps, speed reps, holds for time, and if the resistance is too light for you, just wrap rubber bands around the clamp end to increase the resistance.

Here are a few variations you can do with the Pony Clamp:

The Pony Clamp with Extended Handles is one of the cool, effective, and simple training tools I show you how to make in Home Made Strength II: Grip Strength Edition. Click that link or the banner below to check it out today.

Extensor Bucket Lift

No Grip Training program is complete if it doesn’t feature some sort of extensor work. If you neglect your extensors, you not only can create an imbalance that could turn into an injury down the road, but you can also hold your strength development back. By strengthening the extensors you will also be able to further strength then flexors of the lower arms.

One way to do this is with an extensor bucket. I like to use an empty cheese ball loaded with steel and iron for the resistance. You can also use a pretzel container if cheese balls are “not your bag.”

Once you fill the container, stick the finger and thumb tips in and extend them out forcefully against the rim of the opening and then lift the container up. Once lifted, you can make the back of the forearm work even more intensely by flexing and extending the wrist.

Here is the Extensor Bucket in action:

These are just 4 simple exercises that you probably already have the equipment to perform, but there are hundreds of more ways to train for grip and forearm strength that can help you perform at a high level and stay injury free on the field.

My Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball has over 200 exercises in it. Remember, it’s not only important to have strong hands and forearms for playing the game, but if some kind of traumatic injury takes place, the athlete that is best prepared will often get back on the field more quickly.

Let’s hope that is what happens with McCutchen. He is a great player that loves the game and plays with passion and flair, and it would be a shame for him to miss a large portion of the season due to this injury.

If you want to bullet-proof your hands and forearms, check out Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball.

All the best in your training,


The Coolest thing about Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball is that the overwhelming majority of people who have bought it from me do not even play baseball. UFTB is the most complete and most detailed resource of Grip and Forearm Training in existence. If you want training ideas for the lower arms, this is the resource you want. No one else can touch it in terms of content, illustrations, program layout, and of course my email product support.