Manage your training frequency.
It’s very important to maintain a consistent training program throughout the season. Most athletes know the feeling you have when you take a week or more off and that first strength training session is terrible because you feel weak and de-conditioned. In reality, you may actually be weaker. That’s the frustrating truth about strength and power development. Here’s the way it works:
During a strength training session, muscle fibers are weakened by micro traumas that actually make you weaker when you leave that session. Over the next 12-48 hours, your muscle fibers recover and regenerate to make the muscle larger and stronger. So, in most cases, you are stronger over the next 12 to 48 hours if you are able to recover properly. This is a take one step back so you can take two steps forward scenario. After that, you have about 1-2 days of maintained or slightly declined muscular and nervous system strength. The decline becomes evident 4-5 days after the last strength training session. This is why performing 2 strength sessions per week is key to keeping strength gains throughout the season.
Get Some Soft-Tissue Work to Amplify Recovery and Limit Breakdown
Now, this next point is arguably among the most important, and conversely, the hardest to attain. We are fortunate here at AMP that our athletes have access to the Recovery Lab and regular soft tissue work when the need arises. Regular Soft-Tissue work or massages work to effectively accomplish a number of goals.
· 1. Blood Flow: When it comes to recovery, blood flow is the name of the game. Getting in some light conditioning and lifting is one way to achieve some extra circulatory mojo, but many athletes also benefit greatly from regular massage work, especially around areas that take a beating. Remember, in most sports that rely on particular skill sets like throwing, kicking, jumping, etc., we will tend to put extra stress on certain areas of our bodies. A little extra love on these areas, and a good manual therapist, are huge assets for sustaining your performance for the long haul.
· 2. Proactive Injury Prevention: Listen, breakdown in athletes over a competitive season is NORMAL! We are all bound to experience this in our sport from time to time. The way you approach this, however, can make all the difference. Here at AMP, we like to be proactive regarding breakdown and injuries with our athletes. We’d rather just “Change the Oil,” so to speak, then wait for the engine to blow and try to fix it afterwards. Working with an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist with some manual skills is a great way to continually manage breakdown and assess quality of muscle tissue and movement. Manual Therapy and massage work can both identify red flags before they present as injury, and maintain healthy function. A Good Manual Therapist + A Good Strength Coach = the key components to Athletic Success. This is the Support system that all professional and elite athletes have and use to perform at a high level. So why not you?
· 3. Active Recovery: So manual therapy is a great way to help recovery and prevent/treat injuries. So, what else can an athlete do? We have already talked about adequate sleep, nutrition, and training, but we also like to use some active recovery modalities to aid your bodies normal regenerative processes. There are 2 that we really like at AMP and our athletes can attest to their effectiveness. The first is the Marc Pro, which is an e-stim device designed to improve blood flow, activate fast twitch muscle fibers and accelerate regeneration. It is a much better option than ice for injury prevention, and you can read more on that here. The second, the Normatec MVP, is an intermittent compression system that applies pressure to your limbs to aid in venous and lymphatic return to your core. Imagine pushing the turbo button on your circulatory system and getting a massage at the same time. Yeah, we know it sounds good, because it is… You can find these and more in the Recovery Lab, or check out www.marcpro.com and www.normatecrecovery.com for more info on these great tools!
So now that we have covered all the basics, we can apply it. Your in-season week should look something like this:
Monday: Game Day- Pre-Game warm-up and post-game challenging lower body lift with corrective exercise and rotator cuff work.
Tuesday: Practice - Pre-Practice warm-up and post- practice sprint and linear movement work consisting of explosive speed from 10 to 50 or 60 yards.
Wednesday: Game Day- Pre-Game warm-up and post-game challenging upper body lift with corrective exercise and rotator cuff work.
Thursday: Practice - Pre-Practice warm-up and Post Practice recovery consisting of corrective exercise and mobility work and/or some soft tissue work.
Friday: Game Day- Pre-Game warm-up and post-game total body lift focusing on explosive plyometric with corrective exercise and rotator cuff work.
Saturday: Practice or Game Day- Pre-Practice warm-up and post- practice lateral movement work consisting of explosive speed from 10 to 50 or 60 yards.
Sunday: Off Day- Active Recovery with foam rolling and corrective exercise. Soft Tissue work is best here, and can really help you get ready for the next week!
These days can be moved around to determine what works best for you. Another reason that keeping a log will help the process. Starting pitchers should have their challenging lower body lift immediately after their game or the next day. Soft –Tissue work is critical for pitchers, and best done the day or two after your start. Their full recovery day can be the day before their start and they can just work correctives and warm-up before a mid-rotation bullpen 7-Day rotation.
“Stick with the game plan, but don’t forget to enjoy it.”
The final tip comes from AMP Athlete and New York Yankees pitcher, CC Sabathia. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stay focused throughout the season because of all the ups and downs on and off the field. Have a bad outing on the mound or go 0 for 5 at the plate? Don’t try to totally revamp your approach because of it. Miss a lift? Don’t stress over it. Get right back at it the next day and don’t allow it to change your original, well-thought-out plan. This is the time to enjoy what you’re doing. Keep in mind that, for some of you, this will be your last chance to play with your friends and it’s something you’re going to remember for the rest of you lives.
-Coach TJ Lopez