It’s true that having a college body is important if you want to play college baseball or softball. If you don’t pass the eye test it will likely be hard to get noticed. The typical way people address this is by eating a lot, sleeping a lot, and getting in the gym and doing standard exercises like, deadlifts, bench press, and squats. While those exercise definitely will make you stronger, they won’t make you stronger in the way that you actually move on a baseball or softball field. Being gym strong, is great and will help you pass the eye test, but once you pass the eye test, you actually need to play the sport at a high level, and If you want to do that, a standard gym approach has some holes.
There’s a common phrase, you are what you eat. It may sound not as catchy but if I were to write that same thing from a movement perspective I would say “you move how you’ve moved.” People often don’t understand the effect that what they do in every day life has on the movements that they need to make on a baseball or softball field. In kinesiology, there’s a theory that explains this, it’s called the SAID Principle, SAID stands for Specific Adaptation To Imposed Demands. To say it simply, we as humans will organize around whatever task we are given often. In strength training, if we are told to bench press all the time then our body and brain will adapt to the movements of the bench press and will apply that in every day life and sport. The problem is most traditional exercises that you do in a gym don’t align with how humans actually move when it comes to running, hitting, and throwing.
Most of the time, in the gym setting for either using both arms or both legs to perform the same action in every repetition. For example, squats, benchpress and deadlifts are examples of three exercises that train the body in this way. I’ll challenge you to think of more, but in sports, the only times the athletes use both arms and legs together in the same way are when a basketball player is going up for a rebound (or dunking with two hands), or when an offensive lineman is pass blocking. Other than that, I cannot think of another time when athletes use both legs in both arms in the same way. However the majority of what athletes do in the gym trains them almost exclusively in this way.
According to the SAID principle how ever we train is what we will do on the field, or in our life for that matter. So if you’re training in ways that are not designed for how humans move in daily life, or how humans move when you’re playing your sport (in this case baseball or softball) you should reconsider the way your training.
OK….. If I should stop training the way that I’m training, what should I do instead? Great question, that’s one that I began wrestling with in about 2018. I had done traditional training for years and had always resulted in me being in pain. From pretty standard muscle fatigue, all the way to debilitating migraines. It made me look a lot deeper at my training and I began to ask the question is my training the reason that I’m getting migraines? I was getting them pretty frequently and I was scared because my wife and I were considering starting a family, and every time I got one I would need to lay in a dark room for between six and eight hours. I felt like there was no way that I could be a good father if I didn’t solve that problem.
I begin to look into alternative training methods, one of my clients was a personal trainer who specialized in posture and gait mechanics. She encouraged me to focus on aspects of movement that I had never thought about before, and do training I had never even heard of. After doing that for a few months my migraines went away, and I haven’t had one in 4 years.
The deeper and deeper I got into training this way the more I realized that the way traditional training had been done was flawed and didn’t follow the SAID principle at all. The logic of traditional training basically goes, let’s train each muscle to be strong, it doesn’t matter if they are trained in ways that have nothing to do with how we typically use them. This makes no sense if the SAID principle is true. If we were to utilize the SAID principle properly we should instead be strong in the way that we actually use our body both in daily life and in our sport.
The problem with traditional training is that it’s designed around equipment, not designed around humans. If I invented the barbell, it would be my goal to sell as many barbells as I can, since that the more of them I sell, the more money I make. So in my marketing I would showcase all of the different exercises that you can do using barbells, and explaining the way that people will benefit from using them even if the benefit to people isn’t 100% true who cares as long as I can sell my product. As you can see by this example, selling the equipment was at the center of the training design. When training is designed around humans, it puts the person at the center, and only uses equipment in ways that benefit the individual doing the training, as opposed to the seller of the equipment.
The first step in understanding how to design training around humans is establishing commonalities between the way that all humans move. Gait cycle is the key to this, if healthy all humans walk and run. When we observe gait cycle, as well as other baseball/softball movements like hitting and throwing. We have established a few rules that govern everything thing we do.
1) Pressure in your core provides the base for stable movement.
2) The thoracic spine always rotates towards the lead leg. This is true when people walk, run, hit and throw.
3) The leading arm is always pulling in and the trailing arm is always pressing out.
4) Our feet work underneath our hips.
5) The Algebra Rule – In order to maintain balance and athleticism whatever you do to one side of your body, do that same thing to the other side of your body.
When we use these rules in training, people become strong and fast on the field, not just weight room strong, which in baseball and softball is a good thing.
Thanks For Reading,
Kurt Hewes Founder and CEO of Ignite Baseball