3 Reasons Why Bench Press and Baseball Don’t Mix

Bench Press and Baseball are like Oil and Water; they do not mix.

Working with mainly male, High School and College age, Baseball players, I get a lot of grief about not including Bench Press in programs. Especially, when they see the Football and Hockey players doing it.

When I ask them why they want to bench press so badly I get answers such as; “it’s fun”, “I like lifting heavy” and my personal favourite, “it looks cool”.

It is widely accepted in the baseball world that the reward of getting strong on Bench Press is outweighed by the risk the exercise poses to the shoulders and elbows. My exclusion of Bench Press is not because I want to keep you from ‘looking cool’ at the gym. There are specific and scientifically proven and accepted reasons as to why overhead athletes should avoid this exercise.

Hopefully, this blog will also reach some of the NCAA college programs down south. It BOGGLES my mind when Baseball players in Division 1 Baseball programs come back with Bench Press in their strength programs! No, I am not kidding. It happens…all the time…

Here are 3 reasons Baseball athletes should avoid Bench Press:

  1. It Exacerbates Negative Adaptations Acquired from Throwing

When you throw thousands of baseballs every year there are a few things that typically happen to the body:

  • Increased glenohumeral (shoulder) external rotation
  • Decreased glenohumeral (shoulder) internal rotation
  • Decreased elbow extension
  • Decreased scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation
  • Decline in the quality of the tissues surrounding the shoulder girdle
  • Abnormal spinal curvature (usually in the thoracic and lumbar areas)
  • Decreased hip mobility

In laymen’s terms:

  • Your shoulder gets loose in the front
  • Tight in the back
  • Elbow doesn’t straighten all the way
  • Your shoulder blade doesn’t move well
  • The tissue around your shoulder is gritty
  • Your spine it hyperextended
  • And your hips don’t move

Not a pretty picture. And how does Bench Press help this situation…

IT DOESN’T!

Bench Press actually causes stresses to the body that are extremely similar to those found during a throwing motion:

  • Spinal extension
  • Scap retraction and depression
  • Humeral (upper arm) movement without scaps
  • Heavy loads placed on the shoulder girdle

In any sport we use the off-season to re-establish proper movement patterns and mobility, give our arm/shoulder time to rest and correct instabilities and dysfunctions. So why would we want to perform an exercise that does not allow this to occur and can actually exacerbate these dysfunctions?!

Much of exercise selection for athletes comes down to a risk vs. reward. Is the reward (strength gains) worth the risk the exercise places on my athletes? When it comes to Baseball players and Bench Press the risk FAR outweighs the benefits.

  1. There is Little Direct Transfer to Playing Baseball

Another factor in exercise selection is specificity to the sport. Does this exercise mimic anything the athlete is doing while they are playing? To decide this we need to look two things:

  1. The plane of movement of the exercise
  2. Where the movement falls on the force-velocity curve.

Research shows us that power development is highly plane-specific. Meaning that many traditional sagittal plane power movements (vertical movements such as; jumps, sprints, cleans, snatches) have little transfer into throwing. Frontal and transverse plane movements (lateral and rotational) have much more correlation (skaters, medball throws and banded rotations). So, while Bench Press may be a great exercises for an athlete in shot put or kayaking it has little use for a Baseball athlete.

Thanks to our hunting ancestors, humans have mastered the throwing motion. And it has been widely recognized that pitching is the fastest articulated motion a human can produce! This puts throwing a ball at the velocity end of the force-velocity curve. It is a very light load moved incredibly fast. Whereas the Bench Press movement is at the other end; a heavy load moved slowly. The movement is too removed from any movement that occurs in Baseball and therefore, will have little impact on performance.

 

  1. The “Meat Head” Factor

Let’s go back to the reason’s my Baseball athletes give for wanting to Bench Press:

  • It’s fun
  • I like to lift heavy
  • It looks cool

People (especially young, hormone driven males) have a tendency to overestimate their strength capabilities while Bench Pressing. I have done it myself and I have seen countless others do it as well.

 

If my number one goal as a Strength Coach is to keep my athletes healthy and second goal is to improve their performance then I need to choose exercises that are going to keep their inner meat head at bay!

Bench Press done with heavy loads and poor technique can put their most prized possession, their shoulder, in a very vulnerable position. Yes, people will argue that any exercise done with high load carries risk. However, a failed rep in a Push-up has less risk than Bench Press. Risk vs. reward!

“So, watch your athletes and make sure they use proper technique”.

Okay, valid point. However, have you ever tried to coach multiple athletes at one time? Even on my best day it is impossible to see EVERYTHING on the gym floor. And any coach that tells you different is lying.

As a coach I have to pick exercises that are self-limiting, safe and effective, whether I am watching them every second or not. This can mean different things for different sports, positions and individuals. Hence, why I may program Bench Press for a Football athlete versus a Baseball athlete. Have I mentioned risk vs. reward yet?!

The exclusion of the bench press in our baseball programs goes beyond “it’s dangerous for your shoulders.” Even if coached and performed perfectly, our athletes won’t get as much transfer from it as they would from other pressing exercises.

Check back for Part 2 of this Blog where we discuss pressing exercises that are much better suited to baseball players and other overhead athletes!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to book your personal training sessions and shake off quarantine!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 3

We hope this has been a help in your day to day life if not, there are the few more reasons we can explore!

Reason 9. You are not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is a vital for everyone to live a healthy life but did you know that a lack of sleep can actually make you feel hungrier than normal? The two reasons behind this are; cortisol and insulin!

When we do not get enough sleep our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is the hormone associated with the flight-or-fight response, preparing the body to either fight or run. Unfortunately, the body isn’t always smart and it responds to any sort of stress this way; and lack of sleep is a BIG form of stress. To help combat increased cortisol levels the body attempts to self-medicate by craving carbohydrates (sugar). This increases insulin in the blood, which in turn decreases cortisol levels. However, this can become a vicious cycle because insulin is also affected by lack of sleep!

If you are not getting enough sleep each night your body becomes less sensitive to insulin.  Which means that your body becomes less effective in transporting the carbs you eat to your cells so your body has to pump out more insulin to help. However, insulin also regulates our feeling of satiety (feeling full), when levels are high we continue to feel hungry which can cause us to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

The easiest way to help combat this is to get yourself on a sleep schedule and stick to it! Figure out what time you need to go to bed in order to get a full 8 hours of sleep and make yourself go to bed. This does not mean climb into bed and turn the TV on or pull out your favorite book. When your ‘bedtime’ hits, turn out the lights and put the remote or book away and get to snoozing!

Reason 10. You are Skipping the Veggies

The majority of people do not get the recommended amount of vegetables every day. Vegetables contain important vitamins and minerals required for overall health. Dark leafy greens in particular are rich in vitamin K, which helps to regulates insulin levels. Vitamin K can also increase insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier for your body to utilize sugar from your bloodstream. If you are utilizing the sugar you are eating more efficiently than you will not require more through extra food and this will help you STOP those cravings!

Veggies are some of the rich in fiber and fiber helps slow the digestion of the foods we eat. This in turn helps us feel fuller longer and slows the digestion of sugars so we process it properly, rather than turning it into fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Include more dark green leafy greens in your diet; spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli. As well as other delicious fiber-rich veggies like carrots, celery, and sweet potato.

11. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Lean proteins – chicken, turkey, fish, eggs – Can help combat hunger pangs. Protein takes longer to digest, which means you feel fuller longer and are less likely to reach for that next snack. Protein has also been found in recent studies to have appetitive suppressing effects by prompting the release of hormones that encourage the feeling of being full. Along with helping keep hunger away protein also requires more energy to breakdown than carbohydrates or fat, meaning it burns more calories to digest. Protein also has a positive effect on your metabolism by promoting the growth and regeneration of muscle after working out, muscles burn more calories at rest than adipose tissues (fat).

How to Change This Habit:

Aim to consume about 0.8-1.0 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This means that a 150 person should aim to eat between 100-150g of protein per day (this equates to about 400-600 calories from protein sources each day).

Ideally, protein should be of the lean variety; chicken, eggs, turkey, fish. However, it is really easy to sneak more protein into your diet through vegetarian options – chia seeds and greek yogurt in your smoothie, quinoa in your salad, nut butter in your oatmeal, make hummus from chickpeas and dip veggies. Aim to have a source of protein in every meal and snack.

Reason 12. You’re Bored

Feeling hungry can be as simple as being bored. Studies have shown that boredom actually diminishes our ability to make good and healthy food choices, and we consume more fattening foods than we would normally. Boredom is also the most common reason people give when asked about their emotions prior to consuming food. In other words, boredom turns us into emotional eaters.

How to Change This Habit:

When you are about to eat or snack be conscious of why you are doing so. Ask yourself ‘why am I reaching for this snack’ and be truthful with your answer. If it is because you have nothing else to do then find yourself a task to distract yourself – go for a walk, fold the laundry that has been sitting in the hamper for 2 days, go sit outside and enjoy the day – these distractions should help the feelings of hunger subside. Another tip, first drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If you are still feeling hungry in 10-15 minutes then allow yourself to eat.

Thanks for reading!

Click here is you messed part one and here if you missed part two!

Come see our new facility! Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to book and appointment today!

Chicken Roti

Chicken Roti

Trinidad Chicken Roti- An incredible chicken meal that would excite your taste buds. Rich in spices, chickpeas and potato-So easy to make and comes together quickly.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Caribbean
Servings 5 people
Calories 333 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Chicken Marinate
  • 2 1/2 -3 pounds chicken skinned thighs cut in bite-sized pieces
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
  • Chicken Roti
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 Teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme
  • 1- teaspoon cumin spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2-3 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1- teaspoon ground nutmeg spice
  • 1 can of chickpeas drained
  • 1- tablespoon bouillon chicken powder
  • 2 cups of cubed potatoes
  • ½-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 1- teaspoon white pepper.
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth/water
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place chicken in a large bowl or sauce pan
  • then add salt, garlic, thyme, white pepper and curry powder
  • Mix chicken with a spoon or with hands until they are well coated, set aside in the fridge and marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
  • When ready to cook, heat up large sauce-pan with oil, and add onions, garlic, thyme, cumin spice, all spice, smoked paprika, nutmeg and curry powder, stir occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until onions is translucent.
  • Then add chicken, stir and sauté for about 2-3 more minutes. Add chicken stock if necessary to prevent any burns
  • Next add chickpeas, chicken bouillon, potatoes, cayenne ,white pepper, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until sauce thickens, it might take about 20-30 minutes.
  • Adjust for salt, pepper and thickness with more more broth.

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 2

Just in case you missed part 1 of the blog, click here to get the first 6 reasons!

Reason 7. You are Drinking Your Diet

Soda, fruit juice, sugar added to coffee or tea are some of the most sugar laden foods you can consume! And you can easily consume hundreds of calories and an incredible amount of sugar in just 1-2 cups. Refer to reason #1 for why consuming high amounts of sugar is making you fatter.

And don’t think that choosing the ‘diet’ option is any better for you. Artificial sweeteners – such as sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin – can actually increase your appetite for real sugar. When you consume sugar there is a decrease in the amount of ghrelin (hunger hormone) and insulin (hormone that removes sugar from the blood) which causes a feeling of satiety. The problem with sweeteners is that they taste sweet but do not cause decreases in ghrelin or insulin, therefore, we crave more sugar to actually help reduce these hormone levels in our blood stream.

How to Change This Habit:

This one is simple, cut them out of your diet! There is no way around this one, sugar laden or artificially sweetened drinks are one of the worst things you can consume if you are trying to lose weight. Substitute for water and if you want more flavour to your drinks infuse them with lemon, limes, cucumber, or fresh mint for all the flavour and none of the sugar! Drinking extra water will also help stave off those hunger feelings.

Reason 8. You Eat Low-Fat Options

Starting in the 1980’s the ‘no-fat’/’low-fat’ diet craze swept across the food landscape. Manufacturers from Heinz to Kellogg’s began producing and marketing low-fat and no-fat everything. And consumers began chowing down! The thought: ‘It’s healthy, right?’

Wrong. Dead wrong.

The low-/no-fat craze is actually making us fatter & hungrier! Fat is not only an essential nutrient that we need to survive but it also provides food with palatable flavour and texture. When fat is removed food tastes like cardboard! So how did manufacturing companies combat this…SUGAR! Loads and loads of sugar!

A typical 126mL low-fat yogurt can contain up to 44g of sugar! That is 101% of your daily-recommended intake! If you refer back to Reason #1 you will remember that refined sugar not only spikes and crashes our blood sugar levels, causing us the feel hungry and crave more sugar but excess sugar that cannot be procced properly will turn to fat.

How to Change This Habit:

Eating healthy fat will NOT make you fat, it will actually help aid in weight loss. No, I am not lying to you. Fats takes longer to break down in your stomach and helps control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings.

And while it may sound counterintuitive, your body needs fat in order to burn fat! Dietary fat helps break down existing fat by activating PPAR-alpha and fat-burning pathways through the liver. But don’t run out and grab that big greasy pizza just yet; not all fat is created equal! Your fat sources should come from unsaturated sources; avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, omega-3 fish oil supplements and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola in your diet.

Click here for part 3 of 3!

12 Reasons You Always Feel Hungry; Part 1

Hunger is a complicated function that is influenced by not just biological factors but psychological ones as well. Because of the complicated relationship between nature and environment, controlling your feelings of hunger can be a frustrating task that makes sticking to a healthy diet more difficult than it needs to be.

Stick around for this 3 part series about the surprising day-to-day things you are doing that are making you feel hungrier than you really are and that are in turn sabotaging your waist line. And of course, tips to combat these habits!

Reason 1. You Eat Too Many Refined Carbohydrates

Does this daily menu sound familiar to you?

Cereal with milk for breakfast, a sandwich or wrap made with white bread or tortilla for lunch, chips or crackers for your mid-day snack, a dinner of pasta or pizza and a cookie or small bowl of ice cream for dessert.

If you daily menu reads something similar to this than your problem is that you are trying to fuel your body with nutrient deficient refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, white rice, cookies; lack any sort of fiber that helps satiate you. Another problem with the lack of fiber is the rate at which your body has to process these foods.

When we eat refined carbs our blood sugar levels spike through the roof and our bodies have to quickly work to reduce the glucose levels in our bloodstream. Removing all the sugar from our bloodstream so quickly then results in a crash, which in turn leaves the glucose levels in our bloodstream too low, thus triggering our hunger hormones to tell you to eat more carbs to raise your blood sugar levels to a safe point. It is a VICIOUS cycle!!

How to Change This Habit:

To combat this vicious cycle choose slow digestible foods that are nutrient dense and have a low glycemic (sugar) content. Carbohydrates such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole grains, beans, and fruit and veggies will not spike your blood sugar levels.

Reason 2. You’re Actually Just Thirsty

Research has shown that over 60% of the time that people are thirsty they incorrectly respond by eating! The reason behind this is that the same glad (the hypothalamus) regulates signals for both hunger and thirst and we often confuse these signals.

How to Change This Habit:

The next time you are feeling the urge to snack, drink a cup of water first and wait 20 minutes. If you are still feeling hungry after this than eat something. Another great waist saving tip is to drink 1-2 cups of water prior to a larger meal. Studies have shown that those who do this tend to eat 75-90 less calories per meal!

Reason 3. You Are Trying to Multi-Task.

The feeling of hunger is not the only factor that influences the amount we eat throughout a day, attention and memory play a big part. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full. Because of this, if you are not paying attention and are multi-tasking while you eat – watching TV, driving, checking your phone, working at your desk – you can easily take in more calories than you need in less than 20 minutes.

Multi-tasking also does not allow us to be mindful of what we are putting into our mouths, if we do not process that fact that we are eating we do not store this action into our memory. If our brain does not register a memory of eating than we are more likely to eat again sooner than is really required.

How to Change This Habit:

Be mindful when you eat. turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, take a break from your work. Take time and enjoy your food – the flavours, colours, smells, and textures- by doing so you will find your meals more satisfying and you are less likely to overeat or snack again soon afterwards.

Reason 4. You’re Too Stressed Out!

Have you ever heard someone or seen a meme encouraging you to eat sweets when stressed because ‘stressed’ is just ‘desserts’ spelled backwards? Well there is some real truth behind behind this saying.

Many people will say that when they are stressed they actually eat less, well this is true in the short term. With acute stress – like an exam – your body produces a hormone called epinephrine (aka adrenaline) that triggers your fight-or-flight response; temporarily shutting of hunger signals. However, chronic stress – from work, kids, finances, etc.- causes the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to crave carbohydrates (ie. sugar) because this increases insulin levels in the bloodstream which helps reduce cortisol levels.

How to Change This Habit:

While you may not be able to control all the stressors in your everyday life you can do things to help alleviate the effects of stress; take a bath, spend time with friends or family and control what you are putting into your mouth. Resist the temptation to binge on something sugary when feeling stressed to help break the cycle!

Reason 5. You Are Eating Too Quickly

As mentioned in Part 1, it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. So, if you wolf down your entire meal in less than 5 minutes you are more than likely going to overeat.

How to Change This Habit:

When eating your meal take time to chew your food completely; put your fork down between bites; chat with your friends or family around the table; drink water between each mouthful. In short, slow down! All of these tips will allow your brain to catch up to your stomach and help keep you from overeating.

Reason 6. Your Social Media is FULL of Food Pics

Scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram can be just as bad for you waistline as actually eating sugary, deep fried, fatty treats! Seeing pictures or videos of food actually enhances our desire to eat those foods. Even if you are not initially hungry or are not in need of food these visual triggers cause our bodies to send signals to the brain prompting it to release ghrelin, a hormone associated with triggering hunger.

How to Change This Habit:

Try unfollowing some of the Instagram accounts and Facebook pages that highlight sugar laden, fatty, deep fried treats and instead follow feeds that feature healthier options.

Click here for park two!

Need to get you diet back in good order? Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to get our SST lean body program.