Training Regimen

Dave · February 25, 2010 at 11:39 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Geoff Baker did a nice profile of the team’s change in the way they are handling the conditioning of their players today. It’s worth a read, but the bottom line is that the M’s have essentially abandoned the normal strength training, and are now using resistance based exercises to attempt to develop the muscles the players use while playing baseball.

There is apparently no area where the M’s will not look for a competitive edge. I love rooting for this team now.

Comments

54 Responses to “Training Regimen”

  1. msb on February 25th, 2010 12:00 pm

    Add this to the nutritionist who apparently scoured out the clubhouse and Chef Jeremy’s kitchen last year…

  2. wabbles on February 25th, 2010 12:02 pm

    Interesting. So does that mean potentially fewer injuries since they are strengthening the oft-used muscles in what is a speed and agility game versus trying to look like Paul Bunyan? One of the clubhouse guys at FanFest told me Ichiro!’s stretching routine is “insane.” But he hasn’t had the injuries Junior has had.

  3. luckyscrubs on February 25th, 2010 12:09 pm

    I love it. Building strength by bench pressing or simple movements like bicep curls results in muscle imbalances and eventually injuries. Focusing on these outdated exercises are counterproductive to building strength suited for baseball.

  4. robbbbbb on February 25th, 2010 12:10 pm

    Yeah, but you kvetched in that interview yesterday about how the team doesn’t hand you easy storylines to write about on a platter.

    :)

  5. nwivoryhunter on February 25th, 2010 12:12 pm

    That is so damn cool! I love these guys! If I was a player this is exactly what would entice me to come to Seattle! Top to bottom they are managed with the right focus in mind. Add Wak’s approach that the organization will do anything to make players happy so they can achieve their best results as a player and person and you have a excellent recipe for success as an organization!!!

  6. Liam on February 25th, 2010 12:17 pm

    There is apparently no area where the M’s will not look for a competitive edge.

    Has the visitor’s locker room been painted pink yet?

  7. Jeremariner on February 25th, 2010 12:17 pm

    I am sure that Brandon League appreciates the gesture.

  8. Dave on February 25th, 2010 12:21 pm

    I said I love rooting for this team, not writing about it…

  9. CCW on February 25th, 2010 12:22 pm

    I’ve been saying to whoever will listen (no one) for years, ever since I started doing yoga myself, that balance and flexibility are probably just as, if not more, important than pure strength for a baseball player. Just ask Ichiro.

  10. Steve Nelson on February 25th, 2010 12:39 pm

    From the Sports Illustrated article that went up yesterday: Feel The Glove:

    “Defense might be the new OBP,” says Blengino, “but at some point it’s going to be something else that will be underappreciated. It may be something that has nothing to do with the statistical perspective. A team that figures out how to get 250 innings out of a starter, for example, is going to have a huge advantage. Who knows what the next inefficiency in the marketplace is going to be.”

    Then I saw the post by Baker this morning, and it was clear that Blengino had mentioned that because the Mariners had not only already thought about that, they were already doing it.

    And they locked up their chosen guy with a three-year non-compete.

  11. radiowxman on February 25th, 2010 12:40 pm

    CCW is 100% correct.

    I crossfit, and even though I’ve been slack over the past year, it’s amazing how much you can do by increasing the intensity of your workout and working your muscles overall, instead of just focusing on one part of your body.

    So, instead of a weight workout that would include a run, leg press, bench press and curls, you’d take a 20-lb medicine ball, squat down and throw it up against a wall 100 times.

    This makes so much sense, and I am ecstatic the M’s are leading the way in adopting these types of techniques in MLB. I’m just amazed no one has done it sooner.

  12. Jay Yencich on February 25th, 2010 1:04 pm

    Just to note, this is basically the same methods that I wrote about earlier that the M’s were trying out with their minor leaguers. So not only are they willing to go in a completely new direction, they’re willing to make it a mandate.

    I could’ve made a whole new post on this, but it more or less would have gone over what I’ve said already. This is definitely stuff worth getting excited about, and the exclusive three-year contract? Wow.

  13. ThundaPC on February 25th, 2010 1:15 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that finds this fascinating. I was initially curious about how this kind of thing compares with the rest of baseball. It’s great to know that the Mariners organization is looking to be on the cutting edge in any area possible.

  14. Steve Nelson on February 25th, 2010 1:32 pm

    And this probably makes Carlos Silva even more happy to be someplace other than Peoria right now.

    “That was one of the (bad) things with Seattle. Here, they want to get me back on track in my pitching. They don’t worry about my size or my weight. In Seattle, they were worried more about my weight than anything else. I feel more comfortable here. Getting people out is what matters. I’m not out of shape at all. Ask the trainers.”

    The trainers aren’t allowed to speak with the media, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild gave an honest appraisal.

    “You’d like him to lose some weight,” he said. “And we’ve talked to him about it. …”

  15. marc w on February 25th, 2010 1:53 pm

    Great point, Steve. The org has been doing this all winter – hinting about a 1B pick-up just before the Garko signing, or Fusco mentioning that they wanted another pitcher on the Hot Stove League show a day or two before they signed Bedard.
    It helps frame what they’re doing with Elliot, or at least part of it: they’re trying to get more innings out of their best pitchers while reducing the risk of injury/attrition.
    This remains the biggest inefficiency in the game: you can spend millions on top-flight pitching talent, despite not having any real idea if they can stay healthy long enough to help the MLB team. It’s not like the M’s are the first club to think about this – EVERY club thinks about this every day. But this move (and the work they’re doing with the minor leaguers that Jay mentioned) strikes me as another great sign.

    It’s not that it’s *hard* to write about this team, it’s just that it’s hard to write about this team without sounding like a cult member.

  16. DC_Mariner on February 25th, 2010 1:58 pm

    I’m pretty surprised they weren’t doing this stuff earlier. I mean, despite what Geoff Baker says this isn’t groundbreaking stuff. I guess it’s radical because nobody in baseball is doing it, but I did this stuff as a college athlete seven years ago.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the Mariners are doing it. It’s definitely the right move. I just wish they had done it sooner.

  17. joser on February 25th, 2010 2:05 pm

    I guess it’s radical because nobody in baseball is doing it

    Baseball has always been one of the laggards when it comes to conditioning. Part of it is that there isn’t quite the physical arms race you see in more contact-oriented, one-on-one sports, and part of it is just the conservative, old-boys ethos of the sport in general.

    Add Wak’s approach that the organization will do anything to make players happy so they can achieve their best results as a player and person and you have a excellent recipe for success as an organization!!!

    Except that the things that would make some players the happiest is unlimited junk food and no special exercise regime. Just ask Carlos Silva. (Though it’s not just him: lots of the young guys, — like teenagers and twentysomethings in general, athletes or not — would rather just chow down on pizza and burgers).

    Sometimes short term “happiness” needs to take a backseat to denial and long-term commonsense.

  18. Liam on February 25th, 2010 2:10 pm

    How long before Dayton Moore makes over his weight room with a bunch of as-seen-on-tv fitness products?

  19. thehemogoblin on February 25th, 2010 2:24 pm

    How long before Dayton Moore makes over his weight room with a bunch of as-seen-on-tv fitness products?

    They’d have to be washed up and overshadowed by better things. So he’d have his team on the Atkins diet and doing Calisthenics.

    Seriousface

    I think that the Mariners under Zduriencik are more effective at finding and exploiting market inefficiencies than any other team; this is just another example of how the Mariners have turned around so quickly since Bavasi departed.

    (And I swear I mean this objectively. Like someone brought up before: it’s really difficult to not sound like a cult member when you follow this team.)

  20. tranebc on February 25th, 2010 2:56 pm

    When i first glanced at that headline i thought it read “training riggleman”…it got me a bit nervous for a second.

  21. Steve Nelson on February 25th, 2010 3:14 pm

    @thehemogoblin:

    @Liam:
    How long before Dayton Moore makes over his weight room with a bunch of as-seen-on-tv fitness products?

    They’d have to be washed up and overshadowed by better things. So he’d have his team on the Atkins diet and doing Calisthenics.

    The room would also need to have plenty of grit. They would spread it on the floor, sprinkle it on the machines. Maybe park a couple of gritifiers a few places around the room.

    And then they would have Bloomquist be the first guy in the room.

  22. behappy on February 25th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Another example of the the amazing turn around of this organization. When do we start giving credit to Howard and Chuck? They have done a masterful job of hiring the right people.

  23. wabbles on February 25th, 2010 3:27 pm

    This is all part of the plan.
    Cults will invite people to a “friendship dinner” with a lot of starchy, high sugar foods. When those people return home, they experience a sugar crash and begin thinking about how much better they felt in the presence of all those nice, nice people. They’re hooked.
    We had Bill Bavasi for almost five years, that’s the sugar crash. Suddenly we’ve had the equivalent of elevated blood sugar for the past year-plus. We’re hooked.
    Of course we sound like cult members.

  24. Mike Snow on February 25th, 2010 3:39 pm

    Baseball has always been one of the laggards when it comes to conditioning.

    I think that’s also a reason for the collective blindness to the influx of steroids. The historical reluctance to take advantage of weight training, for example, made it that much easier to pass off massive physical changes as just adopting legitimate strategies to a degree that most others weren’t doing.

  25. wanderinginsodo on February 25th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Curious to see how the players will react to it. While it is mandatory for minor leaguers, it isn’t technically mandatory for the major leaguers.

    That being said, the patience for players who aren’t going to be serious about this program will be thin from an organizational stand point.

    This organization all about buying into the ‘belief system’. The fact that this ‘belief system’ now has a proven scientific background with an extraordinarily intelligent trainer at it’s helm is pretty damn cool.

  26. Hatch on February 25th, 2010 3:51 pm

    Another example of the the amazing turn around of this organization. When do we start giving credit to Howard and Chuck? They have done a masterful job of hiring the right people.

    They stay out of the baseball side of things. Thats why they get some of the credit.

  27. Hatch on February 25th, 2010 3:54 pm

    And this probably makes Carlos Silva even more happy to be someplace other than Peoria right now.

    “That was one of the (bad) things with Seattle. Here, they want to get me back on track in my pitching. They don’t worry about my size or my weight. In Seattle, they were worried more about my weight than anything else. I feel more comfortable here. Getting people out is what matters. I’m not out of shape at all. Ask the trainers.”

    The trainers aren’t allowed to speak with the media, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild gave an honest appraisal.

    “You’d like him to lose some weight,” he said. “And we’ve talked to him about it. …”

    I showed this to my boss who is from Chicago and a huge Cubs fan. He almost had a stroke and the look on his face was priceless. He has no idea what they are getting in Silva. He seems to think moving Bradley to the M’s was the best thing for them.

  28. wabbles on February 25th, 2010 3:59 pm

    So does this change of philosophy also extend to the “pitch through the pain” method of developing young pitchers? Might some of our prospects actually become real major leaguers now?

  29. Bender on February 25th, 2010 4:04 pm

    As someone who works in the fitness industry training some top level athletes, including currently training a professional baseball player, I have mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand I’m excited because they’re trying new things, but on the other hand I’m worried because some of the things they’re doing appear gimmicky and the removal of weight training is concerning.

    The problem with weight training is that there are a ton of very different types of weight training. I agree that doing away with things like bicep curls and leg extensions is a good thing but getting rid of things like squats and power cleans is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    For instance I know from experience working with baseball players that getting them squatting helps them generate more power.

    In the end I trust the current organization to make good decisions, and even though this is my job and my area of expertise and it appears there may be something slightly off with what they’re doing, I defer to their judgment.

  30. joser on February 25th, 2010 4:20 pm

    but getting rid of things like squats and power cleans is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Perhaps the “reisistance training” they mention will encompass some of these things. Definitely not my area of expertise and I have no idea.

    When do we start giving credit to Howard and Chuck? They have done a masterful job of hiring the right people.

    When do folks start paying attention (indeed!) and stop asking this question?

    The room would also need to have plenty of grit. They would spread it on the floor, sprinkle it on the machines. Maybe park a couple of gritifiers a few places around the room.

    But hey, they could employ Chuck Norris, Christie Brinkley, and that Tony Little guy. Like Bloomie and Betty, I’m sure they’d all appreciate the work.

  31. clyness1 on February 25th, 2010 5:05 pm

    I have to agree with Bender. I am in the strength and conditioning industry. While I appreciate the M’s effort to thoroughly and wisely condition their athletes, rubber band and isolation exercises are not cutting edge nor are they effective for injury prevention and elite athletic performance. The M’s can do better.

  32. ThundaPC on February 25th, 2010 5:45 pm

    More good stuff from Baker regarding the new regimen.

    I’m definitely interested in seeing how this plays out in the long run.

  33. Mike Snow on February 25th, 2010 6:54 pm

    rubber band and isolation exercises are not cutting edge

    Could you explain what you mean by that, for those of us who don’t know more about strength training than a bench press? I can imagine what kind of work the “rubber band” moniker is meant to belittle, but I would normally think isolation exercises is more descriptive of the weightlifting approach they’re moving away from, the kind that only develops limited muscle groups rather than an integrated system.

  34. Liam on February 25th, 2010 7:01 pm

    Another example of the the amazing turn around of this organization. When do we start giving credit to Howard and Chuck? They have done a masterful job of hiring the right people.

    Howard Lincoln was on with Brock and Salk on Wednesday. He had many nice things to say about Jack Zduriencik, but there were two things that caught my attention.

    “The funny thing about 2008 was our expectations were so high. Everybody thought this was a year we go to the playoffs.”

    See this. PECOTA, ZIPS, CHONE, Hardball Times and even Dave said that it wasn’t happening.

    “My expectation is that we will compete for the American League West division title. I think all of us are going to be very disappointed if we don’t get to the playoffs one way or another. We have the talent level, the chemistry and the leadership to get us to that American League West division championship, but we have got to play the games.”

    This part concerns me because Jack Zduriencik might end up being a victim of his own success. If the 2010 club struggles, he could be on the hot seat in 2011.

  35. Bender on February 25th, 2010 7:15 pm

    Could you explain what you mean by that, for those of us who don’t know more about strength training than a bench press? I can imagine what kind of work the “rubber band” moniker is meant to belittle, but I would normally think isolation exercises is more descriptive of the weightlifting approach they’re moving away from, the kind that only develops limited muscle groups rather than an integrated system.

    I think what he’s getting at is that isolating a muscle is a non-functional movement. For instance doing a bicep curl is not really helpful for developing meaningful real world strength, but it is good at making biceps bigger. If you substitute something like a pull up for that, you get a more meaningful exercise that is applicable to functional strength. You can make the same argument for lat pull downs versus pullups, leg extensions versus squats, etc.

    Now, after reading the second article about what they’re doing, I’m a lot less skeptical. They’re focusing on hip drive and hip power, and that is the foundation for all functional athleticism. I think they should still do things like heavy squats, cleans and the like, but I am a lot more confident after reading more about what they’re doing.

    Also, Baseball is an extremely specific sport, so training for more specificity isn’t exactly a bad thing.

    In regards to ‘rubber bands’ not being cutting edge, I think that’s pointed to the Keiser air-compression pulley systems they’re using, which at first glance seem really gimmicky to me, but again, I defer to the current organization and hope for the best.

    A worry I have is in regards to the amount of high intensity rotational movements they plan on using. Transverse plane exercises are notorious for causing and leading to injury and I’d be interested to see if this guy has worked out how to do them well. If so he’s figured out something that no one else in the fitness industry has and more power to him. Though looking at his quotes he sounds too much like a salesman to me.

    In the end, I’m glad they’re relying less on machines like the Nautilus crap and doing more functional movements. I can only see good things coming from that.

    Sorry to ramble, it’s a complicated subject and a passion of mine.

  36. ThundaPC on February 25th, 2010 7:59 pm

    “This part concerns me because Jack Zduriencik might end up being a victim of his own success. If the 2010 club struggles, he could be on the hot seat in 2011.”

    I don’t think the hot seat will come into play until at least 2013. Ownership went into selecting a new GM with the idea that they needed a 3-5 year plan to rebuild this organization with a strong foundation.

    Even though things seem accelerated at the moment, I believe ownership still wants to see this team contend on a regular basis. And really, the more things work out the more time Jack has to make his plan work.

  37. msb on February 25th, 2010 8:00 pm

    Ah, Silva. As mentioned, the nutritionist outlawed the candy bowls and made Chef Jeremy change his menus — and only one player steadily gained weight all season.

  38. clyness1 on February 25th, 2010 9:01 pm

    Desire for more powerful hips=great! But trying to accomplish this goal with Keiser machines will be a waste of time except with the rank novice trainee. The M’s should talk to RRS’s ex-sprint champ trainer for advice about multiple plane function and hip explosion. Training while attached to a machine that fixes range of motion and stabilizes load is not a good approach for a seasoned athlete. On the other hand it looks like Elliot is going to put them through some good gymnastic exercises and their power output analysis feedback might be helpful. Nutrition is the big key for these guys. Cut out sugar, legumes, and grains and the M’s will be much healthier.

  39. Aletheia on February 25th, 2010 11:08 pm

    I know some people might panic about the machinery and exercises these guys are shown doing, but I would think what we see can easily be explained as giving as little information as possible due to not wanting to lose a competitive advantage.

    The simple fact is that the Mariners have a 3-year non-compete contract with this guy. He has proven success stories doing exactly what he is doing in other sports (think the Patriots super bowl runs in recent years). There is no reason for them to tell us everything they are doing in this arena or why. The players are going to talk about the fact that everything has changed, so they need to say something, but there is no reason to give away too much information by describing everything they are doing.

    Ultimately, the results will show on the field and if improving the power and explosion coming out of the hips of players on the major league roster adds a few runs to the overall totals this year that can’t be a bad thing with this offense.

  40. Bender on February 25th, 2010 11:25 pm

    clyness1, I agree about the diet but you’re not going to see an MLB team on Paleo in our lifetimes. Also, lets give this guy the benefit of the doubt for now.

  41. Liam on February 26th, 2010 12:09 am

    I would think what we see can easily be explained as giving as little information as possible due to not wanting to lose a competitive advantage.

    From Baker’s article,

    As we mentioned earlier, the Mariners have an exclusive contract where MLB teams are concerned. Elliott’s company, the Peak Performance Project (P3) does work with individual ballplayers and will continue to do so.

  42. Breadbaker on February 26th, 2010 12:31 am

    I like the idea of innovation here, take seriously the comments of both those in the fitness industry who are skeptical and those who point out that the M’s didn’t sign an exclusivity contract in order to publish all they are doing on the internet. I also would apply the same standards to this that you should to all other analysis, i.e., we’re not going to know if this is successful based solely on the injury or even the stamina results for 2010 among 25 players.

  43. msb on February 26th, 2010 10:07 am

    Kirby Arnold’s version of the story

  44. Carson on February 26th, 2010 10:15 am

    It’s not that it’s *hard* to write about this team, it’s just that it’s hard to write about this team without sounding like a cult member.

    Quite the turn around from such a short time ago, eh? The same cynics probably called you a Negative Nancy from 2004-2008.

  45. joser on February 26th, 2010 12:08 pm

    Yeah, I think we’re really going to be hard-pressed to come to any conclusion about this new approach, even years from now when the players who are being introduced to it at the dawn of the pro careers are moving into the majors (assuming the org has stuck to it all that time). The sample size is so small, and injuries can be so quirky and player-specific, that even large statistical comparisons probably won’t find an effect that rises above the noise. The M’s might have fewer pitchers wash out due to injuries before reaching the majors, say, but they might have had that result anyway because they were drafting different body types. Or they were just lucky.

    Even if other teams adopt this approach (once the exclusivity ends) it won’t necessarily tell us anything except that the M’s are seen as a trendsetters by other teams.

    Probably the best we can hope for is that the players themselves see it as a better approach — ie, a purely subjective evaluation. But that’s pretty important, and not just because players talk and it is (or could be) one more thing that makes the M’s a team players want to play for. Because there’s a psychological element to hitting and pitching (or even fielding and throwing, if you’re Chuck Knoblauch), it may be enough that players think the M’s have a magic fairy dust for it to act, in a small way, like a magic fairy dust. In other words, even though it may have no objective benefit on injury rates or power or anything else, it may still have an objective positive effect (on something — FIP, BABIP, SLG?) because the players believe it does.

    It will be impossible to separate that from everything else, however: for all we know, daily Griffey tickles may do more for player confidence and be all the secret “edge” anyone needs.

    Quite the turn around from such a short time ago, eh? The same cynics probably called you a Negative Nancy from 2004-2008.

    Were you not here for the “ponies” and “bees (of negativity)” threads? Just look at what happened when Derek ran a pre-season simulation of the 2008 year and despite his best efforts to be positive (he even mentioned ponies!), found that the team would drop about 11 wins from 2007. (Which, as we now know, was optimistic by 16 wins). Let alone the animus and rancor that was unleashed whenever they criticized moves like acquiring Vidro or trading away Adam Jones or giving Bloomquist more playing time.

    Speaking of simulations/predictions, I’m finding the discussion of PECOTA’s consistent mis-prediction of the Angels over at BA really interesting.

  46. Mike Snow on February 26th, 2010 3:06 pm

    I don’t know if this qualifies as a ringing endorsement, but Shannon Drayer mentions that Garrett Olson has been on this program for four years now.

  47. Jay Yencich on February 26th, 2010 3:13 pm

    I wouldn’t hold Olson against Elliott’s accomplishments. Olson’s fastball is so bad that it’s hard to imagine that he’s had a major league job, but he has.

  48. Mike Snow on February 26th, 2010 3:22 pm

    Right, it’s in the same league as Alex Sanchez testing positive for steroids when he had all of 4 career HRs. It doesn’t mean the regimen is worthless.

  49. Jay Yencich on February 26th, 2010 3:31 pm

    That’s a good analogy. Fringe players are more likely to try any available method in order to establish themselves. This does not diminish the value of these methods to improve on more talented players.

  50. Sidi on February 26th, 2010 7:26 pm

    For the people involved in fitness training: in high school and college the information I received was that resistance training/overly specific machine training was ok, but the problem was it usually didn’t develop the smaller stabilizing muscles in the way that free weights and general plyo/movement oriented workouts will.

    Of course, that was for running and cross country skiing, so bulking up wasn’t a major goal.

  51. msb on February 26th, 2010 11:57 pm

    Doubt it has anything to do with the new regimen, but apparently Griff is actually running this spring.

  52. GLS on February 27th, 2010 10:06 pm

    I do crossfit and some of the stuff they’re talking about doing, such as box jumps and lateral skater jumps, make perfect sense to me. On the other hand, weights are a good thing. If guys were doing the wrong things with those weights, wasting their time on bench press and curls, then yeah, find a way to get them away from that. But I agree with Bender that exercises like squats and power cleans should still be in the rotation.

    But, I am really encouraged by this nonetheless.

  53. Wilder83 on February 28th, 2010 5:44 pm

    I hate to appeal to authority, but for those of you in the personal training business and questioning what the Mariners are doing, I think it is wise you defer to both the Mariners and the trainers who have been hired that they know what they are doing.

    There are many theories on what is the perfect workout. Truth is, every program has a purpose and may only work for certain people. I know Bender says he works with a professional baseball player, but I doubt he has all the answers for what makes an elite athlete (hint: there is no one answer).

    I think what also needs to be realized is that the players are not abandoning their core workouts. This is the Mariners’ training program. If the players feel they need to do bench press or squats, they are allowed to on their own time. The Mariners are implementing this program during mandatory workouts. Might as well do things the players wouldn’t otherwise do or have access to at home.

  54. DerikH on March 6th, 2010 1:32 am

    I love that the Mariners are experimenting with a new training method. The team is looking to find new advantages every day. Many times, the complaint with baseball players is that they are not muscular enough. This seems like a regimen that could strengthen the muscles that are used for baseball activities. Even if the team abandons this method, kudos to them for trying it out.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.