Archive for September, 2013

Monday Motivation!

Posted: September 30, 2013 by cmrodgers100 in General, Training
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Jim Valvano

One of our favorite things to write about is inspiration. The main reason for that is two-fold. First, is that no matter how tough you or I think we are, we all need a little push now and again to keep pushing toward our goals. Number two is that we @showmestrength love to make a positive impact on our readers. Even if only one of you who read our motivational stuff leaves feeling better, it was all worth it for us.

Without further ado…Monday Motivation is back with a bang. Enjoy :)

ESPN 30 For 30 Survive and Advance– This excerpt, from the feature on Jimmy V and his role in leading his North Carolina State Wolfpack to the 1983 National Championship, shows one of the most influential speeches in sports history. Although dying with terminal cancer, it was as if a higher power was speaking a powerful message through him before his passing. “Don’t give up….Don’t ever give up.”

Powerlifting The Mentality- This video of course was shared with me via a couple of the hardest training mother effers I know. They know that I like to leave it all out there when I train just like they do. Although many of you, including us, don’t powerlift, the message at the beginning of this video speaks volumes. I guarantee 99 percent of people who train out there, have gas left in the tank at the end of most training sessions. Sometimes thats ok, but other times we need to push the limits. Our bodies are amazing machines, and our brains are even more incredible. Listen to this video this video, it will help you push your training to another level. Believe me, its even on my playlist when I’m getting warmed up.

“So you might as well be a f***in’ savage in the meantime.”

Do It Anyways Feel Like It Or Not- A great video from the always eccentric and informative Elliot Hulse.  He’s a no bullshit straight forward guy who’s a beast in and out of the gym. His “Yo Elliot” Q&A videos on youtube are fantastic. Check them out here.

Thats all for today! Have a great week! Follow us here on Twitter and like us here on Facebook!

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Show Me Strength is dedicated to delivering you the best of the best.  Our goal through our writing, whether it concerns training, nutrition, or even anecdotal stories about life, is to hand you the tools and information to better yourself a little day by day.   After all, Ray Lewis said greatness is just a lot of small things done well, stacked on top of each other.

This is our first installment of reads of the week (yes, we’re continuing our motivational reads as well).  Each week we will pick three or so posts that we feel really add value to the conversation and further our journey to greatness (our “winners” more or less).  These will be supplemented by three other posts that we feel our deserving of our recognition as well.

There is always value in the written word.  Take something from each of these posts.  It doesn’t have to be monumental or life changing but there are lessons to be learned nonetheless.  Even if the context of the article doesn’t interest you, the author may be making a subtle point about the bigger picture.  Without further ado, here are our inaugural Show Me Strength’s Path to Greatness Reads of the Week.

Winners of the Week

Cutting Crossfit a Break by Tony Gentilcore:

I’ve often heard it said that nothing in life is ever as good or as a bad as we think.  From a baseball perspective I can relate, as you weren’t nearly as good or bad as you thought on any given night.  Crossfit is no different.  It’s not black and white and with the good also comes the bad.  So often in the fitness industry, writers like to play the part of Internet troll and take shots at Crossfit without offering up anything constructive.   It’s not to say that these criticisms don’t have merit, but if you’re not bringing value to the conversation why start it in the first place?   Crossfit actually does have a lot of good things going for it and Tony does a good job exposing these positive attributes while offering up areas where Crossfit can take the next step and improve it’s model.  Crossfit isn’t going anywhere so instead of trying to tear it down, let’s acknowledge the positives and offer suggestions for continual improvement as it becomes more and more Americans first gym of choice.

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Is Clean Eating a Scam? Cleat Eating vs. IIFYM by JC Deen

Want to know the keys to a best selling diet book: butcher science, fudge data, and make it as extreme as possible.  Sexy sells, science doesn’t.  I’ve always said that a monkey could teach someone how to lose weight, eat a little less and move a little more.  When you break it down, it’s really that simple.  Unfortunately, money talks so born are these extreme diet methodologies and the zealots that come with them.  Now, that’s not to say that there are not beneficial aspects of paleo or low carb strategies as I think it’s best to implement bits and bits to fit your needs.  JC Deen does a good job exposing the ambiguity of “clean eating” while showing you the path to navigate the many dieting methodologies out there to find the right one for you.

Teaching a Kid to Lift by Chris Colucci

I wish I had someone with me to train with when I was growing up.  I always joke around with my younger brother that I “built” him because he didn’t make the same training mistakes as I did, in which I made many.  I’ve always been one to work hard, but I can’t say that early on I ever worked smart.  I’m better for it now as I learned immensely through the trial and error that is going through the fire.    Most kids in the entitlement generation are given access to the best coaches money can buy and lost in the fold is the most important part: learning to grind and work hard.  They never learn how to grow up because they never were forced to go through the fire and learn.  If you have the opportunity to train younger athletes, honor this opportunity.  As Chris says, it’s a privilege and an opportunity to foster a relationship that your athlete may have with the iron for the next 50 years.  Cherish it.

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Exit Sandman: Baseball Bids Adieu to Mariano Rivera

A model of grace and consistency, Mariano is a living legend whose presence will be sorely missed.  He did it the right way and is someone we all can aspire to be like, baseball players or not.

Honorable Mention:

Hacking Sleep: Engineering a High Quality, Restful Night by Brian St. Pierre:

Sleep more and thank me later.  ‘Nough said.

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Dear College Students by Jason Ferruggia:

Whether you’re an athlete, aspiring bodybuilder, or even a weekend warrior, learn to strike a balance in life.  Work hard but make sure you leave time to have some fun.  I’ve always found that I play better when I care less (or stop being so fixated on playing well).  It’s an incredibly frustrating thing to experience, but if you learn to be loose and have some fun, you’ll find life to be that much more enjoyable and your training will see similar improvements.

Beast Reality: Shitty Days by Erik Eggers

Show up everyday.  Show up when it’s the last thing you want to do in the world.  Be accountable to yourself and everyone else who depends on you.  These aren’t just power lifting lessons, they’re lessons in life.

5 Lessons in 142 games part 2

Posted: September 25, 2013 by cmrodgers100 in General

Long tossing

In part 1 of this piece, I attempted to design a mental image for you readers of what a common lifestyle among professional baseball players looks. We went over a few habits that can send a good season in the shitter, and some reasons why baseball players often don’t live up to their physical potential. I also mentioned to you that I felt lucky to have been through the ringer, for lack of a better word, and came out on the other side with the tools to ensure I make the most out of my talents, and go about my career in an efficient and productive manner.

Here in part 2 I will share the 5 lessons I picked up this year that I wish I knew a long time ago. So in other words,  listen up if you play baseball! This will help you.

1.) To keep your shoulder healthy, you don’t need to do a ton of rotator cuff work-

 As you know, shoulder injuries are as common in baseball as deer are in northeast Ohio. They are everywhere you look. It really took awhile for me to get it drilled into my head that doing shoulder strengthening work almost everyday in-season just doesn’t work. After years upon years of soreness, fatigue, and tightness in my shoulder, I finally took some really smart people’s advice on the matter, implemented it, and trusted it to last. The two people who were instrumental in giving me the tools in this aspect of my training are my strength coach, Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance, and my Boston physical therapist from Momentum Physical Therapy, Eric Schoenberg. Here are a few bulletpoints that they taught me, and have worked.

A.) Throwing is a rotator cuff exercise. Don’t go crazy on cuff work post-throwing. Instead, do some stabilizations or light band work to get some bloodflow back to the shoulder.

B.) If your internal range of motion of the shoulder is good, keep it that way by checking it, and only utilizing the sleeper stretch in post game cool down situations.  Also, keep it moving the right way with good soft tissue once a week. Stretching a shoulder thats already loose is a bad combination.

C.) When you do cuff work, understand that the true function of the rotator cuff muscles are to make sure the humeral head stays centered. This video of EC coaching the cable external rotation really helps. Almost everyone does this wrong, and if you are a baseball player or just training, it is paramount that you aren’t firing with the wrong muscles here.

D.) “If you can turn it on, you can use it.” A quote from Eric S. to me during the season this year when I was experiencing some soreness in the front of my shoulder. Basically even when training I was working myself into a bad habit of using the un-useful muscles to perform even my lightest of cuff work. I wasn’t “turning on” or firing my cuff properly. Here is one of the exercises that helped. You must understand though, it wasn’t a strength issue in my shoulder, it was a timing and firing issue. This is where many players screw up in my opinion when dealing with nagging shoulder problems.

2.) Take advantage of days when your arm feels like a million bucks- 

As a pitcher, these are your best opportunities for work in-season. In the past, I would look at these days with a perspective of  the “well I might pitch today” attitude. No. This is wrong. When you feel good, get up on the hill for a few pitches to work on something specific. Dont be stupid and throw 50 pitches. Focus hard on weaknesses, get comfortable for 10-12 pitches and get outta there.

An alternative, if you feel comfortable with everything on the mound, would be to get a long toss session in.  This will give you a chance to air it out a little bit and get your arm speed rocking. Make sure you don’t force the issue, as the main objective here is to get work AND feel good when you pitch next. Starters can plan more than relievers though, obviously.

3.) It’s not hard to maintain strength if you’ve trained the right way in the off-season and pre-season-

 Let me just start this by saying if you don’t train like a savage and prepare for the season the right way, then this doesn’t apply to your sorry ass. But for you athletes who do give a shit, the ones who logged all the hours, and layed on some serious strength during the winter months, then when the season comes, it’s not time for worrying about seeing how much you can deadlift. You need to find out how to keep your strength with the minimum possible energy expenditure. Everything you do in the weight room needs to be geared toward feeling like a boss during the game.

4.) I believe staying in good cardiovascular condition is very important, however, running is not the solution

It’s no secret that when you go to compete in the game, your heart rate is very high. If it’s not, you probably either hate baseball or are some sort of Tibetan monk. With that understanding, we need to train so we have some good wind and aren’t huffing and puffing out there. Some strategies that worked for me were implementing shorter rest periods in my lifts, and jogging back to the start line as a recovery on sprint days. These are low impact solutions that will allow you to feel from a cardio perspective, that you are prepared for high intensity parts of the game.

5.) Blacking out my bedroom and taking ZMA helped me sleep and recover like a champion-

 Resting properly is one of the most overlooked assets of an efficient athlete. Anthony Mychal wrote an absolutely fantastic article over at T-Nation talking about tuning your nervous system and recovery to boost performance. Check his post out here.

Its been researched that having a room completely dark with no light entering your eyesight whatsoever allows your body to fall into the deepest sleep possible where the most recovery power occurs. I turned off my phone, computer, and even covered my window with blackout tint this season to make sure I was recovering the right way. As a tip, make sure the blinds block out all light even in the morning when sun comes through to wake you up.

Another item that’s been highly researched is the supplement ZMA. It is just capsules of zinc and magnesium, 2 minerals athletes are often deficient in. When taken 30 min before bed, I would wake up feeling refreshed and felt like I was in a deeper state of sleep, longer thru for the duration of the night. Of course, you should research whether this product would be good for you, but for an active athlete who sweats a lot, and expends alot of energy, I think its great a great addition to a great training program and even better meal plan.

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Just like anything in life, we are constantly learning, growing, building, and becoming more efficient at what we do. I hope those of you who are taking the time to read this understand that here at Show Me Strength, we are writing for those of you who are just as hungry for answers and returns on your hard work as we are. I hope you find these things I’ve learned this year informative, and as always feel free to ask us questions in the comment section below. Or you can catch us at showmestrength@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter!

You need surgery.

Those are the three words that every athlete prays they never hear.  Aside from the onset of depression that ensues from being on the DL,  for most, facing surgery forces deep introspection.  It goes far beyond whether or not you’ll be able to play in the near future.  Instead, it forces the athlete to ask what if?  What if worked a little harder could this have been avoided?  If I didn’t half-ass my mobility drills every day could I have made that cut more efficiently?  Or if I fueled my body like an athlete should would I have had more energy in the 4th quarter when I got hurt?  This thought process can consume you because there is no game tomorrow or next week to rectify the situation.  It’s natural for athletes because when you’re injured that’s all you’re left to do…or is it?

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Surgery and injuries suck.  Clearly.  I’ve had my fair share (three) and I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed any part of rehabbing.  However, at the same time, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have to go through surgery and the grind that it takes to get back (I didn’t pitch in a meaningful game post Tommy John for 20 months). I had my moments of introspection and it forced me to grow up in a hurry.  My training and nutrition up to that point had been fueled by my learning in bro science.  Daily max effort squats?  Sure thing.  Pizza, post workout?  I was carb back loading before I could spell insulin.  I was forced to educate myself but the most important lesson didn’t involve discovering what loading parameter would have the greatest carry over to generating force in the sagittal plane or what nutrient timing would maximize protein synthesis.  No, not even close.  It was this:

No matter the circumstances, there is always an opportunity to get better. 

Time never stops so why should your injury stop you in your pursuit of getting a little bit better that day?  If you don’t, there are far too many individuals in the world with the same exact goals and dreams as you and you will get passed.  I promise you.

So you have a torn elbow?  What’s stopping you from building thunderous quads and an ass that makes a statement?  Sure, you may not be able to comfortably buy a pair of jeans but do you want to squat the house or what?  Broken leg?  Since when do you need a leg to build slabs of beef on your lats?

The answer is you don’t.  Right now, I may sound like a lunatic or a person that would consider training even on my deathbed and both of these statements may have some truth to them but I speak from experience because I lived the two situations above.  I may have pushed the limits, but I’ve never front squatted more in my life than during the first six months of my elbow rehab.  My best 1 RM on chin-ups was 5 months post-surgery.

Was that the smartest thing?  Probably not but that’s not what’s relevant here.  The point is that nothing, not even a surgery or injury should deter you from getting after it and chasing your goals.  Obviously, there are special circumstances, but I have seen an athlete hobbling around 10 days post-ACL repair destroying his upper body, so there aren’t many.

You have no excuse.  If you want it bad enough, you will find a way.  It’s that simple.

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I was fortunate enough to have Eric Cressey and the team at Cressey Performance in my backyard.  I showed up to his facility 10 days post-op and we immediately started to get after it.  I met the prowler for the first time and it won.  It won a lot.

It’s important that you find your own Eric Cressey.  Find someone in your area who can address your weaknesses through intelligent programming.  If you’re injured, it’s probably because you have some compensation patterns that put you in that position.  Find someone who has a firm understanding of functional anatomy who can train around your injury and still address your weaknesses.  Find a balance.  If I had to do corrective exercise drills all day, I’d go insane.  Lifting heavy shit is corrective exercise.  Learn how to get after it in an intelligent manner.

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Whether it’s surgery or just a minor injury, trust me when I say that if you play any game long enough, you will get banged up.  There are two roads you can take.  Either you can be like some athletes and use your injury as an excuse to take time off from training or you can use it as an opportunity.  An opportunity to honestly asset your weaknesses and fix them.  If your nutrition held you back, correct it.  If you’re weak and your nervous system efficiency is terrible, find someone who you can consider an expert in the field and become powerful.

Some people will tell you that their goal rehabbing post surgery is to get you back to the level you were before.  F*** that.  My goal in any situation, torn elbow or not, is to come back better than before.  If you want to be successful, you have no choice but to chase that.

It’s ultimately your career.  Whether your goal is simply to start on your varsity team or play sports professionally, every day, every situation is an opportunity.  You will encounter adversity.  How you respond will dictate how far you go in your chosen sport and in life.

Which road will you take?

5 Lessons in 140 games part 1

Posted: September 20, 2013 by cmrodgers100 in General

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Unlike  youth baseball where kids play around 50 games per year if they are lucky, or high school baseball where you may only sneak in 20-30, the professional baseball season at the minor league level is 142 games long, not including the postseason. Even more incredible is the Major League level where all 30 teams play 162 games in their regular season.

Throughout the regular season in the minors which spans between the months of April and the early portion of September, only about 10 days off are given to the teams. This leaves the other 130ish days to be filled with either baseball, prepearation for baseball, or thinking about baseball. Sounds like a drag?? Well, unfortunately for many talented players playing at this level, it is. But why? It’s every kid’s dream to play baseball for a living right? So many people would give anything in an instant to be in our shoes. This is all true. But still, many professional players cash it in around the halfway mark for a variety of reasons. Here are a few that may surprise you…

A.) Physical Unpreparedness- Inexcusable? Yes. Prevalent? Yessir. Whether it be arm care, mobility, strength, conditioning, arm strength, arm speed, ext, the vast majority of professional baseball players move poorly, train improperly, throw too much or too little, and take care of themselves in a way that you might expect a college freshman in their first time away from mommy and daddy.

B.) Lack of Mental Fortitude- This can be very problematic for a player who experiences thier first setback of their life in the pros. With such high demands to perform, a person who is weak mentally may never recover due to their lack of adversity in life and sports. Much better to get your knocks early in your career, so you are prepared once the stakes get much higher.

C.) Poor Lifestyle Choices- One of the biggest reasons for poor performance and burning out early. Its easy to slip into a routine of getting out of bed at 2pm after a late game, getting something quick and unhealthy to eat for your first meal, and relying on caffeine to carry you through the day. Believe me I’ve been there before, its a vicious cycle that you don’t want to fall into.

D.) Realization That You Aren’t As Good As You Thought You Were- Each level a professional baseball player moves up to, the competition gets sharper. Fastballs are located better, curveballs are breaking later, and hitters are more and more and more ready to hit your s***. When you throw your best stuff up there and you leave the game having been tagged for 4 runs in an inning, its easy to question your ability. The elite player shakes it off and comes to the field the next day ready to get thrown back out into the fire.

E.) Realization That Their Are Still 70 Games To Go- “Wow that first half flew by!” Me after our record setting first half this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. But once the second half gets rolling with only 4 off days in 70 days, 3 game losing streaks feel like theyll never end, players and coaches are now family members, and once that elusive day off comes, your arm feels like its filled with concrete the next day beacuse you didnt throw. Weird right? The “dog days of summer” are in full effect and the work you’ve done to prepare yourself in the preseason is now on display. This is where great players hit the gas and lesser players ease up and coast to the finish line.

With all this said, I feel lucky to know all this information about the game inside the game if you will.

For once, I feel lucky to have experienced career threatening injuries. It taught me perseverance.

I feel lucky to have learned how to train properly, eat right, and rest at the right times.

And ultimately I feel lucky to have been there through the ups and downs of professional baseball to get a shot with another team. A team where I was healthy for the entirety of the season.

In part 2, I will share a few things I learned this season that may help you avoid the physical and mental pitfalls that happen to players so frequently. Until then, think about this….

Teddy Rosevelt quote

It’s Time For A Revolution

Posted: September 17, 2013 by aferreira in General
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The world is soft.  Soft I tell you and the stories of the pussification of America are unfortunately commonplace in today’s age.  My generation is one of entitlement.  Hard work?  Please, my generation is terrified of a little sweat and blood.  Trust me, bragging about how hard you work on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t constitute grinding. Don’t tell me about how hard you work.  Show me.

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Be honest with me for a second.  Do you work out or train?  Is your cell phone attached to your hip in between sets?  No, I’m not asking if you listen to music while you train.  I’m asking if you’re finding out all about your girlfriend’s day in between sets of bench because every day is chest day right bro?

I’ll fill you in on a little secret: most people work out.  Just as most people are soft, most people have no conception of what training means.  There’s a mindset that accompanies those who train.  These individuals don’t have time to bullshit with their buddies in between sets because they have tunnel vision.  All they see is the iron and an indomitable will to conquer.  Because you see, the iron, like life, doesn’t give a shit about you.  It’s apathetic to whatever is going on, good or bad.  Feeling good that day? Well, you better bring it because the iron will staple you if you don’t.  Is the world around you crumbling?  Forget about it because in that moment where it’s you against the bar, all the worries in the world dissipate.  Few things in the world are black and white but whether you embrace the struggle and overcome the iron that day is very clear-cut.

The iron is my metaphor.  It is the lens through which I see my life.  I acknowledge that I cannot defeat the iron or succeed in life without grinding.  No, not grinding in the empty meaningless way that most kids these days throw it around.  Grinding to me means selling your soul for something that you want.  It means leaving no stone unturned in the journey to accomplishing whatever goal inspires you to get up in the morning.  The iron is black and white.  It simplifies my vision.  Hard work may not give you everything in life but I know no other way to the top.

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My name is Andrew Ferreira and this is my introductory post to Show Me Strength. I will write for the 1%.  The 1% in this generation who acknowledge that nothing worthwhile is just handed to you in life.  The 1% who train.  The 1% who want to be successful as badly as they want to breathe.  I have no time for the other 99%.  The other 99% who may feel entitlement because they got drafted or earned a college scholarship.  I was an athlete at Harvard and that means absolutely nothing.  You want to find soft, entitled athletes?  Walk those halls.  Show Me Strength will not be a place for the 99%.

My hope is to transform Show Me Strength into the elite nutrition and training resource for those athletes and individuals who embrace the struggle and live by the grind.  Whether you want to gain 10 lbs of muscle by next season or double your testosterone levels, we are your resource.  The 1% is the place for the elite and Show Me Strength is where you will be able to find no nonsense, no bullshit strategies to become the best you can become.

Full disclosure:  if you want easy or you’re looking for the new magic pill in supplements, leave and never come back because we’re not about shortcuts. If you are willing to lead a revolution against the entitlement generation, welcome, you are home.  There is no place for soft individuals on Show Me Strength.  Learn to embrace the grind and we will take you to the promised land.

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