In the past month or so I’ve started using Snapchat as a new means of sharing content – both training and nutrition – and connecting with coaches/athletes. It’s a lot quicker, allows the person/athlete on the other end to know if you’ve opened their message (so they don’t feel ignored), it’s like a text message in terms of convenience (without having to give out your cell phone number), and there’s less of a chance of losing a question in the shuffle. Finally, it allows for quick multimedia answers, in addition to simple text, for more effective answers.
This week on Snapchat I posted 3 exercises per day, each of which being one of my favorites for pitchers. In all reality, though, these are all great exercises for any athlete, and really just about anyone. Each day (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) had exercises falling into a specific movement category:
Monday -> Upper-Body Push
Tuesday -> Lower-Body Knee-Dominant
Thursday -> Upper-Body Pull
Friday -> Lower-Body Hip-Dominant
I wanted to take a few moments to compile that list of twelve exercises for those that missed out or don’t have Snapchat, and provide a brief, yet more in depth explanation of why I selected each one as well.
P.s. I apologize for the image quality – they’re screenshots straight from Snapchat videos.
1. Push-Up Complexes:
Quite possibly one of my favorite movements for pitchers specifically, the Push-Up Complex could probably have a Movement Category all to itself. With so many variations (push-up, shoulder tap, stretches, mountain climbers, leg lifts, etc.) there is a lot of room to progress the movement so that it can be included year-round, while also controlling for pressing volume, which can be limited easily on the push-up itself by keeping the push-up reps low, while still getting in a ton of work in many other aspects by including multiple movements through this closed-kinetic chain (CCK) position. The CCK nature of this movement also forces the athlete to learn how to move and utilize the scapulae since they are free to move, unlike other pressing variations (e.g. Bench Press).
2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Press
When done properly, with both feet fully engaged with the floor, hips down and level on the bench, strong breathing, and the free arm unattached to any support (including the body), the Single-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press is an incredibly challenging exercise. Use it with a relatively heavy load and you’ll be left winded and feeling your entire body. While I’d prefer Push-Up Complexes over Bench Pressing, this variation’s challenging load (more so than a Push-Up) and anti-rotation components make it a favorite for me.
3. Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
While I like to control for overall pressing volume, this is another exercise that I will include in programming to balance out the movement profile of my programming, while also allowing the scapula to move freely. Also, the HK Landmine Press poses a challenge to postural control and alignment, so long as the athlete keeps the spine neutral. Much like the Push-Up Complex, the HK Landmine Press can also be progressed sequentially, and can actually be categorized as a “Reaching” movement, since we are reaching long through the scapula.
- Towel/Valslide Reverse Lunge
The Reverse Lunge, in general, is one of my favorite lower-body exercises, as it is simpler for most athletes to first learn (as opposed to a Forward Lunge) and for its application to acceleration. Add in the towel/or valside and you get an added “pulling” component demand for the front leg’s glute and the back leg’s hip flexors.
2. Transverse Lunge
While it isn’t a baseline regression or a full-blown staple of my programming, the Transverse Lunge can be great tool in your exercise library to take a Frontal Plane movement (the Lateral Lunge) and add a Transverse component to it, bringing it a little bit closer to “pitching-specific”.
3. Goblet Squat
You can’t talk about favorite lower-body movements without mentioning the Goblet Squat; it is an absolute must-have in my own programming, as it is great for athletes first learning to squat, those with mobility restrictions, and pitchers that you don’t want to Back Squat. I don’t think I need to say much else to justify the Goblet Squat.
1. Inverted Row (Feet-Elevated)
I’m a big proponent of relative strength and mastering body-weight, especially for younger athletes and novice trainees. While elevating the feet makes this an advanced progression, it’s great to implement once the athlete is ready for it. Not only does it challenge the Upper-Body, but by emphasizing the proper way to raise the hips during the movement, postural awareness is challenged as well.
2. Standing Parallel Stance Dumbbell Row
Of all of the Dumbbell Row variations, the Single-Arm Dumbbell Row performed in a Standing Parallel Stance is my favorite as, when performed right, it has great functionality and crossover to other movements in the weight room. The stance itself mirrors and reinforces the RDL position, the down arm – when actively “reaching” through the bench – creates great trunk engagement, and the position itself can challenge postural alignment as well. Talk about “bang for your buck.”
3. Bent-Over W
As for rotator cuff exercises and accessory “pull” movements, I’m a big fan of the Bent-Over W. Although I don’t include it in my initial programming (as it is quite challenging to hold that position while maintaining posture, and while sequencing it properly) I do love including it after some time in order to challenge the athlete’s glenohumeral rhythm as well as provide the external rotators some work.
1. Barbell RDL
Another one of my staple movements, the RDL – whether it be barbell, dumbbell, or in the form of a good-morning – packs a lot of punch once it is learned. That is the caveat, though, as the Romanian Deadlift, or hip-hinging in general, is one of the toughest movements for novice trainees to master. But, this is why baseline regressions and teaching sessions are included right from the start in my programming. With its focus on the posterior chain, its demand on postural alignment, and its wealth of variations and loading patterns, you can’t find a much more valuable exercise to include than the RDL.
For the same reasons stated above for the Barbell RDL, plus a handful more, the Staggered-Stance RDL is one of my favorite hip-hinging exercises and my absolute favorite RDL variation. With the emphasis now placed more on one leg than the other, the Staggered-Stance makes this variation a great way to bridge the gap between a baseline Parallel Stance RDL and the Single-Leg RDL. There becomes a rotational component added as well.
You can’t talk Lower-Body Hip-Dominant exercises without including one of the strongest muscles in the body and a major hip-extensor; the glute. With the bent-knee position limiting hamstring involvement on hip extension, as well as the anti-rotational component added by going single-leg, the Single-Leg Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust is a great accessory lower-body movement, as well as an advanced progression of the standard Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust.
For more content like this be sure to follow me on Twitter: @Ryan_Faer as well as on Snapchat @ rfaer23