MLB Promotes Olympic Lifting for All Baseball Players

MLB Orioles Olympic LiftingPost surgery doctors told me I would never pitch again because of the serious damage to my rotator cuff from throwing a baseball. I never trained with weights for baseball before the surgery. After the surgery I decided to ignore the conventional wisdom of the game which was telling me weight training would reduce performance and cause injury. Well that had already happened and it wasn’t weight training that caused it.

From then on out I chose to lift with heavy loads using the Olympic Lifts because I met Kurt Hester and he showed me what he did with LSU in the 90’s. I thought I had nothing to loss because everyone in baseball had written me off.

The hardest I ever threw before surgery at 18 years old was mid 80’s, if that. Five years after surgery and five years of serious Olympic Lifting, I was topping out at 94mph. I had also gained 65 lbs in the process. It was proof that Olympic Lifting is the legal performance enhancer for any athlete, even pitchers and that the conventional wisdom was completely wrong.

How Olympic Lifting Changed My Game

If I would have listened to conventional wisdom and the doctors, I would probably be working in corporate America today not coaching the next generation of pitchers about the powerful effects of this style of training. I would have definitely never had the opportunity to play minor league baseball. If I would have listened to conventional wisdom Mitchel Sewald would not be playing for LSU after four months of training with me through the Olympic Lifts which increased his fastball from 83-94mph his junior year. Eric Mozieka would not be a badass in D1 baseball topping out at 93mph. Daniel Pitfield would have never played college baseball after being cut ever single year in high school. AJ would have never converted his massive strength to power which pushed him to 90mph. The results are endless and there would be even more success stories, if more pitchers coming into the 3X Pitching Velocity Program, would not give into the conventional wisdom and eliminate the Olympic Lifts from the 3X Program.

I apologize before hand but at this moment I would like to gloat and say to my critics, I told you so. I will no longer sound to my critics like the crazy, ignorant, shameless pitching coach preaching Olympic Lifting for pitchers through the 3X Pitching Velocity Program. Today the culture has changed and Dick Mills, Eric Cressey, Alan Jaeger, Paul Nyman and every other critique of 3X Pitching can stick it. It isn’t that I do not like their attention they have given me over my controversial approach to developing the high velocity pitcher, I just know, with the evidence that I have in this article, that I was never misleading anymore or doing a disservices here at TopVelocity.net. Compared to Brady Andersen, I have always been right on track!

MLB Orioles Use Olympic Lifting for Performance Enhancement

Olympic Lifting ShoesI have to say I never was a big fan of Brady Anderson when he played for the Orioles but after learning what he has done as vice president of baseball operations for them and the culture of the MLB, I think he is a total stud. Not only him but Brittany Ghiroli. She is the author of the recent article on MLB.com called, New workout facility has O’s ahead of the curve. I should have known it would have taken a women to get this kind of information out to the public. I know no man would have wanted his name on something this controversial to baseball. Kudos to her! We all need to send here a tweet @Britt_Ghiroli and thank her for letting this kind of information out!

If you haven’t read the article then you need to read it ASAP.
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130304&content_id=42249936&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

Brady Andersen has broken through the conventional wisdom and developed a state of the art strength and conditioning facility for the Orioles. He has also brought in Olympic Lifting and a complete explosive training approach to the game.

“When you see a guy wearing those shoes, you know he’s bought in,” said Paul Cater, one of four strength-and-conditioning coaches — overseen by vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson — who is working with the Orioles in Major League Spring Training. “It’s a shift in culture, from what I understand. Every single person we’ve talked to said they’ve never had a better strength-and-conditioning program than this.”

Gone are the days of bicep curls and running pole to pole, replaced by a state-of-the-art facility with mobility and yoga sessions, Olympic lifts, long jumps and handstands. Speed and power is king at Orioles camp, and on this particular spring afternoon, Jason Hammel is doing shoulder exercises with a band, outfielder Chris Dickerson is outside being timed in a 40-yard dash with speed traps set up — which he refers to as his “NFL Combine Day” — and Nick Markakis is doing cleans.

This gives me chills! It almost sounds like Brady Anderson has started his own TopVelocity Facility. If you have not been down to train here just outside of New Orleans through the 3X Pitching Velocity Program then you have no idea what I am talking about. What the Orioles have created here is exactly the culture we have created down here in Louisiana with 3X Training.

My favorite part of this article is when Brady Andersen gives an explanation on why he believe baseball players need to train more explosive and aggressive.

“Imagine if the training were today, running full speed, headed toward a wall, diving into the air, catching an object, tumbling on your shoulder, rolling into it, getting up and throwing an object as hard as you can in the other direction. That would be crazy training, right?” said Anderson, who worked with pitchers Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Zach Britton, along with Triple-A Norfolk strength coach Ryo Naito, in California this winter. “That’s what you are asking them to do in a game. So you have to prepare them to meet the demands of the game.

“The organization is putting more emphasis on strength and conditioning to help the players perform at a high level,” said Duquette, who acknowledged it’s still a work in progress at some of the lower Minor League levels. “It’s really preventive, a lot of it, and some of it is performance enhancement.”

I also love it in the article when Brady Andersen wants to pick Dylan Bundy’s brain about his high intensity, explosive strength and conditioning program.

Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who already had made a name for himself in high school for freakish strength, showed up for a workout one day last spring and was told it was his turn to put Anderson through a workout to see if he could pick up anything new from Bundy.

Bryce Harper Olympic LiftingI am shocked that it took this long for the culture of baseball to begin this change. I would like to predict that this is the beginning of the new culture and the Orioles are leading the way and it looks like the Rangers are the next to follow (view video below)!

We also know Bryce Harper loves to Hang Clean in the dark with glow in the dark weights (Taken from Under Amour Ad). I wonder when the next MLB player will be showing off their Olympic Lifting skills to the world.

Checkout this interview with not only the First Female Strength and Conditioning Coach in Baseball but one of the Only Olympic Lifting Certified Coaches Rachel Balkovec.

Why Olympic Lifting is Changing the Culture of Baseball

Olympic Lifting is changing the culture of baseball just like it has changed the culture of every single power focused sport that exists today. Baseball has been the last to go because of its thick headedness and its late evolving drug laws.

Once everyone in the culture of baseball learn that the concerns of Olympic Lifting are bogus then it will completely evolve the game. To help with this evolution I will post the science here that proves Olympic Lifting is safe and extremely effective, even for the high velocity pitcher.

The first major concern of this style of training is injury. Here are two 6 year studies of elite Olympic Lifters and MLB players injury rates with the citation to the case studies at the end of the article.

Injury Rate of Olympic Lifters (6 year study)

  1. 3.3 injuries/1000 hours of weightlifting exposure (1).
  2. Level 1 Fusion System roughly 32 hours of Olympic Lifting (Fusion System is Strength and Conditioning Program in the 3X Pitching Velocity Program).
  3. The injuries typical of elite weightlifters are primarily overuse injuries, not traumatic injuries compromising joint integrity (1).
  4. These injury patterns and rates are similar to those reported for other sports and activities (1).

Injury Rate of MLB Players (6 year study)

  1. 3.61 per 1000 hours athlete exposure (2).
  2. Upper extremity injuries were predominant in pitchers (2).

This is proof that it is actually more dangerous to play Major League Baseball than to compete at an elite level as an Olympic Lifter.

Now, if injury is not a problem anymore then what about the other elephant in the room; flexibility. Does Olympic Lifting reduce flexibility because pitchers need to be flexible right? Some coaches make it sound like flexibility is the only important component to developing the high velocity pitcher. If that was the case then my wife should throw 100 mph. Just like comparing a ballerina to an Olympic Lifter; both flexible but one can move through that range of motion at an incredible rate of speed. The Olympic Lifter is obviously the better body type to model into the high velocity pitcher.

So how does strength training effect flexibility. Conventional wisdom believes strength training reduces flexibility. What does the science say?

  1. Strength training increases flexibility (3,4).
  2. Eccentric training improves flexibility over static stretching (5).
  3. Flexibility increased with specific training alone or in combination with resistance training (6).

It is obvious that the conventional wisdom is once again completely misleading the public. You actually can improve flexibility through strength training.

Another concern with weight training is that the pitcher will gain weight. This is a concern because the conventional wisdom of the game feels heavy pitchers throw slower. So what does the science say?

Body Weight Facts

  1. Pitchers with larger body mass tended to throw the ball faster than those who weighed less (7).

And the conventional wisdom is wrong again. More body weight, on average, actually throws harder. Sorry you didn’t get the science before you lost the weight CC Sabathia!

Now, we know that weight training does not reduce flexibility or cause injury, then what about pitching velocity. Does weight training reduce pitching velocity?

Strength Training Increases Pitching Velocity

  1. 3 resistance training programs increased pitching velocity (9).
  2. Lateral to medial jumps were consistently correlated with high throwing velocity (10).
  3. Individualized, dynamic, variable resistance may be more effective than isokinetic training in improving throwing velocity and external rotator torque production (11).
  4. Short-term 4-week baseball conditioning program was effective in increasing throwing velocity (12).
  5. It is concluded that ballistic resistance training can increase performance in baseball throwing and base running, thus such training methods should be incorporated in baseball training programs. (13)
  6. For this group of non-strength-trained baseball players, it was more effective to implement a weight training program rather than medicine ball training to increase throwing velocity. (14)
  7. Throwing velocity can be increased positively after engaging in resistance-training programs that incorporate, as a minimum, training 3 times per week for 5 weeks of general resistance protocols for the upper body. (15)

Well the science is pretty overwhelming that strength training increases pitching velocity. There is actually ten times more studies than this I just got tired of posting them to this article.

WOW, the conventional wisdom of this game is really in the dark here. Strength training does not cause injury or reduce performance. It actually has the opposite effect. That being said then what is the most effective form of strength and conditioning? It is the Olympic Lifts and here is the science telling us why.

The Science of Olympic Lifting

  1. Olympic-style lifts and their derivatives (e.g., power clean, snatch) are also considered the best training exercises to maximize muscular power and dynamic athletic performance because they are multijoint exercises, they do not have the problem of deceleration phase, and they produce some of the highest average human power outputs of all the resistance-training exercises (8).
  2. Because of the potential of these lifts to produce high-power outputs and their movement- and velocity- specificities to many sport activities (e.g., jumping, running, throwing), Olympic-style lifts are considered as some of the best training exercises to maximize dynamic athletic performance (8).
  3. Garhammer suggested 80% of 1RM maximized mechanical power output in Olympic-style lifts (8).
  4. Haff et al. investigated power output during midthigh pull at 80%, 90%, and 100% of 1RM and found a general trend of increasing power output as the load was decreased from 100 to 80% (8).
  5. Stone et al. found high correlations between maximum strength (1RM squat) and power output even at relatively light weight, indicating the possibility that heavy resistance training may improve power output even against light resistance (8).
  6. In the study, Olympic lifters, who use both heavy resistance training and explosive-type resistance training, achieved better results in jump height and muscular-power measures than did power lifters who use only heavy resistance training (8).

This information is revolutionary and is proof why Brady Andersen will be seen as the next Billy Beene when it comes to changing the culture of the game. Olympic Lifting is the best approach to legal performance enhancement because it maximizes mechanical power out put and maximizes dynamic athletic performance. Two critical components of the high velocity pitcher, the power hitter and the better baseball player.

If you have been kept ignorant by the conventional wisdom of the game, being forced to believe the only way to increase throwing velocity is through long toss and pole to pole running then you need to step out of the dark and into the new culture of baseball with the 3X Pitching Velocity Program!

The Power Clean for the Pitcher

Reference:

  1. Calhoon G, Fry AC. – Injury rates and profiles of elite competitive weightlifters. – J Athl Train. 1999 Jul;34(3):232-8.
  2. Posner M, Cameron KL, Wolf JM, Belmont PJ Jr, Owens BD. – Epidemiology of Major League Baseball injuries. – William Beaumont Army Medical Center, El Paso, Texas, USA. – Am J Sports Med. 2011 Aug;39(8):1676-80.
  3. Simão R, Lemos A, Salles B, Leite T, Oliveira É, Rhea M, Reis VM. – The influence of strength, flexibility, and simultaneous training on flexibility and strength gains. – Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Physical Education Post-Graduation Program, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. – J Strength Cond Res. 2011 May;25(5):1333-8.
  4. Morton SK, Whitehead JR, Brinkert RH, Caine DJ. – Resistance training vs. static stretching: effects on flexibility and strength. – Department of Physical Education, Exercise Science, and Wellness (PXW), University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Dec;25(12):3391-8.
  5. Russell T. Nelson, PT, PhD, SCS, ATC. – A Comparison of the Immediate Effects of Eccentric Training vs Static Stretch on Hamstring Flexibility in High School and College Athletes. – N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2006 May; 1(2): 56–61.
  6. Nóbrega AC, Paula KC, Carvalho AC. – Interaction between resistance training and flexibility training in healthy young adults. – Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, RJ, Brazil. – J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Nov;19(4):842-6.
  7. Werner SL, Suri M, Guido JA Jr, Meister K, Jones DG. – Relationships between ball velocity and throwing mechanics in collegiate baseball pitchers. – Texas Metroplex Institute for Sports Performance, Grand Prairie, TX 75050, USA. – J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2008 Nov-Dec;17(6):905-8.
  8. Kawamori N, Haff GG. – The optimal training load for the development of muscular power. – Department of Kinesiology, Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas 76308, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Aug;18(3):675-84.
  9. Escamilla RF, Ionno M, deMahy MS, Fleisig GS, Wilk KE, Yamashiro K, Mikla T, Paulos L, Andrews JR. – Comparison of three baseball-specific 6-week training programs on throwing velocity in high school baseball players. – Department of Physical Therapy, California State University, Sacramento, California, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1767-81.
  10. Lehman G, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG. – Correlation of throwing velocity to the results of lower-body field tests in male college baseball players. – School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. – J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Apr;27(4):902-8.
  11. Wooden MJ, Greenfield B, Johanson M, Litzelman L, Mundrane M, Donatelli RA. – Effects of strength training on throwing velocity and shoulder muscle performance in teenage baseball players. – J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1992;15(5):223-8.
  12. Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Yamashiro K, Mikla T, Dunning R, Paulos L, Andrews JR. – Effects of a 4-week youth baseball conditioning program on throwing velocity. – Andrews-Paulos Research and Education Institute, Gulf Breeze, Florida, USA. – J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):3247-54.
  13. McEvoy, Kerry P.; Newton, Robert U. – Baseball Throwing Speed and Base Running Speed: The Effects of Ballistic Resistance Training. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 1998.
  14. Newton, Robert U.; McEvoy, Kerry I. – Baseball Throwing Velocity: A Comparison of Medicine Ball Training and Weight Training. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 1994.
  15. VAN DEN TILLAAR, ROLAND – Effect of Different Training Programs on the Velocity of Overarm Throwing: A Brief Review. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2004.
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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Brent, I am training right now to get back into baseball. As I begin to structure my next 4 months of training I am at a cross roads. I have no doubt that olympic lifts are beneficial for velocity and power. Although, I am not sure if they are optimal. I have seen a few studies comparing ballistic weight jumps with a trap bar and high clean pulls, with the weighted jumps beating out oly derivatives by a small to moderate margin in peak power and peak rfd. I have also seen comparative studies on power cleans and light weighted box jumps and plyometrics with both methods increasing vertical jumps equally and the power cleans have a NON significant edge in peak power. Am I missing some benefit that the olympic lift would have over a ballistic trap bar jump that optimized peak power and RFD? I guess I’m wondering if the juice is worth the squeeze.

    Reply
  • […] the past couple years I have stumbled upon a website called Topvelosity.com and read articles like New workout facility has O’s ahead of the curve by Brittany Ghiroli. […]

    Reply
  • […] all baseball players. Topvelocity.net wrote an article on how olympic lifts help baseball playersTopvelocity.net.  The powerclean promotes strength and speed at the same time.  It is mainly performed by […]

    Reply
  • I correct myself… the MLB article mentions only one pitcher specifically doing power cleans and that is Brian Matucsz… however comparing his max velocity from 2012 to this season, there is no difference on pitch fx data. Further proof power cleans haven’t helped. The article also mentions Andersen working with a few other pitchers but not say if they specifically Olympic lifted. I took the liberty to look up the pitch fx data on all of them and agin, no increase in velocity from 2012 to 2013.

    Reply
    • Peter, I understand that this pisses you off. I was just as bitter as you when I learned that Olympic Lifting was so effective when I had neglected using it until late in my career. I truly understand your feeling!

      I have many times attacked the MLB for their training approach because it has not be Olympic styled until now with the Orioles. This is why I wrote the article and shared my enthusiasm.

      Your point that none of the pitchers who are mentioned in the article have made increases in pitching velocity this season is not well thought out. The article states:

      No Orioles player is told he has to do Olympic lifts, although they are certainly encouraged to if they have the capability, and very rarely do the workouts include a one-rep maximum weight.

      This was the first season that this Olympic style approach was encourage. I would assume that the pitchers who chose to use the approach are more than likely those pitchers who have been Olympic Lifting for some time now. If you have ever trained with an Olympic style approach you would know that you get most of your gains early into the training as your body develops to a higher level. You then spend most of your training following these initial gains maintaining what you have. To be fair you need to find when these pitchers started this Olympic training in their careers. This is when you will discover the gains.

      Reply
  • Also, if you do a little more research, you will find out that the organization you are praising (Orioles) are proponents of extreme long toss for their pitchers and allow them to do it daily for as long as they please and have many pitchers feel good on this program. Even the “freakishly” strong Dylan Bundy you have mentioned above.

    Reply
  • The article does not mention one single pitcher who has benefited from doing Olympiclifting. The article mentions position players doing Olympic lifts but nothing about a pitcher and it contributing to velocity enhancement which is what your claim is. Sorry Brent, but your Olympic lift claims to increase throwing velocity has no merit whatsoever. You’ve ripped MLB for their training for a while now and now your on their bandwagon because one organization mentions a position player, not a pitcher, doing power cleans.

    Reply
    • Brent, I am training right now to get back into baseball. As I begin to structure my next 4 months of training I am at a cross roads. I have no doubt that olympic lifts are beneficial for velocity and power. Although, I am not sure if they are optimal. I have seen a few studies comparing ballistic weight jumps with a trap bar and high clean pulls, with the weighted jumps beating out oly derivatives by a small to moderate margin in peak power and peak rfd. I have also seen comparative studies on power cleans and light weighted box jumps and plyometrics with both methods increasing vertical jumps equally and the power cleans have a NON significant edge in peak power. Am I missing some benefit that the olympic lift would have over a ballistic trap bar jump that optimized peak power and RFD? I guess I’m wondering if the juice is worth the squeeze.

      Reply

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