Arriving On Time and On Plane With the Pitch

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In order for you to be a great hitter, I think it is extremely important for you to understand what your main goal should be at the plate. 

What’s the most important thing you need to do in order to see hitting success on a consistent basis? Think about it for a minute.
 
Is it always having perfect swing mechanics? Is it understanding different counts and guessing what pitch will come out of the hand?  Mental approach? What about having a plan? Hand-eye coordination? 
 
None of those answers are really incorrect, because they all contribute to being a hitter. But none of them can even compare with the most important aspect of hitting:  arriving on time and on plane with the pitch.
 
This should be a hitter’s main goal, from batting practice all the way to the bottom of the 9th in the World Series. If you can consistently arrive on time and on plane, I guarantee you’ll be a great hitter. 
 
So what exactly is “on time and on plane?”
 
Timing is critical when you talk about hitting a baseball. The goal of all hitters is to hit the ball hard on the barrel of the bat, and hopefully be able to do it consistently. You need to understand that mechanics are not everything.
 
Sure, they’re important and I recommend that every player grooves his swing until he can be fundamentally sound with each swing, but they’re not everything. If you arrive on time with the pitch, you can fix many mechanical issues. However, if you are not on time, you can cause mechanical issues to occur. 
 
Arriving “on plane” is a pretty straightforward term. It means that you must have your bat on the same angle as the ball being thrown. The plane of the pitch is different with each pitcher and type of pitch he is throwing.
 
Location of the pitch also changes the plane of the ball, thus it should change your swing path as well. A left-handed pitcher will have a different release point than a right-handed pitcher and so on. It changes every game, every at-bat, and every pitch. You better be able to adjust. 
 
This all sounds easy enough, but being able to arrive consistently on plane and on time is what separates decent hitters from great ones. It’s also what makes hitting so difficult to do! 
 
Always remember that each element of the swing is very important for your success. I’m not suggesting that arriving on time, on plane is the only thing that’s important, but I do believe it is the MOST important. 
 
Think of your swing as the human body. Isn’t it weird how if you break a bone, even something small like a finger, your entire body feels different? You’re completely out of whack because all of your body isn’t functioning together like it normally does.
 
It’s the same with hitting and your swing. If you don’t have any hand-eye coordination, you can’t hit. If your plan and mental approach sucks, you won’t be able to hit. Each element works together, and they must all come together for you to see results at the plate.
 
Keep working on grooving your swing and always remember that your main goal as a hitter should be to arrive on time with the pitch and on plane with it! 
Photo on 8-16-14 at 5.30 PM

Want A Bigger Pump In The Gym?

A Little Background…

The other day I was lifting weights and I was working on back, traps, and triceps. As many of you know, I’m a full-time college student and this semester I took an Astronomy lab that met at 7:00pm once a week.

I began my workout at about 5:45, but I started off taking really long rest periods because I was talking to a few buddies, getting water, and just not staying focused. (It happens!)

The next time I looked at the clock, it was 6:15 and I hadn’t even made a dent in my workout! Uh oh.. At this point I had a few options. I could either just slowly work my way through a partial workout, I could just work on a few isolation exercises, or I could bust my ass and get my full workout in with very short rest periods. I chose the latter – and I’m glad I did!

The pump that I was able to achieve was awesome! I literally felt like my muscles were going to burst through my skin! [Picture]

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s one of the best feelings in the world when you’re at the gym, smashing weight, and your testosterone levels are through the roof!

Anyway, I made a discovery that night that I really had never noticed before. If you want a better pump, decrease your rest periods and increase your weight or reps. More on this later…

So What Is A Muscle muscle pumpPump?

A muscle pump, also scientifically known as hyperemia, is when your muscles swell up during your workout due to sufficient blood flow being diverted into them.

It is a very addicting feeling for bodybuilders and athletes, mainly because your muscles feel as though they are going to burst through your skin. The skin gets tighter around the muscle group you’re working and most of the time your muscles will feel fatigued.

If you want to achieve maximum muscle growth, you better get very familiar with the pump. Several studies show that during training, a muscle can receive three to four times the amount of blood it normally does. This is because your muscles need this blood and oxygen to keep contracting and working out.

When it all comes down to it, muscles need blood, oxygen, and the waste to be removed in order to work properly, effectively, and achieve muscle growth.

Many people will argue and say that the pump is not required to see increases in muscle mass, size, and endurance. I would agree, but if you’re looking to achieve the MAXIMUM amount of gains that you can, I recommend going until you achieve a good pump.

Your muscles will grow more from the fascial stretching that happens when a muscle is worked out and “pumped” past its normal size. Just like when you stretch out a pillow case, if you stretch your muscles out with a pump, it allows more room for new muscular tissue to go.

How Do I Get The Pump?

This is the simplest part of the entire process, but definitely not the easiest. Building muscle requires hard work and pushing your body beyond its limits!

The biggest thing you need to focus on when trying to get a muscle pump is to limit your rest periods and either use higher rep ranges or heavier weight.

When you use higher rep ranges, your muscles will be under tension for a longer amount of time and more blood will be forced into them. It’s almost the same effect with heavier weight and a little lower reps. Your muscles are under greater tension because they have to work harder in order to push/pull that particular weight.

So what exercises are best for achieving the pump? There are none! You can get a great pump from almost any exercise. One thing I highly recommend you focus on is the mind-muscle connection and really focus on each repetition.

Don’t just try to crank out your workout as fast as you can. When you’re in the middle of a set, slow down, think about the muscle being worked, breathe, and train like an animal!

I find that the last two or three reps are the best for getting the intense pump. This is the time when your muscles are just about to tap out!

Something that has also helped me is using “drop sets.” This is simply when you finish a set, then quickly strip some of the weight off, then do another set. It helps to have a training partner while doing this and it is probably most effective with machines because you can select a new weight in under a second. Try to incorporate drop sets in your next workout!

The pump is an awesome, addicting feeling. Once you’ve had it once, you’ll want it for the rest of your training days. Hopefully these tips will help you out in the gym and may your pump be as great as you are! :-)

Make sure to check out http://www.DynamiteHitting.com- if you’re looking to take your game to the next level, this is the #1 resource for you!

The Truth About Developing Six Pack Abs [Ab Training Tips]

Ab DevelopmentAs an athlete, it is very important to have a strong core. You don’t necessarily have to have an awesome six pack to be functional in your sport, but hey, who doesn’t like to have great abs?

In this post I’m going to walk you through exactly how to develop a six pack, dispel a few myths, and give you some great exercises that will make the process easier for you.

So here’s the ugly truth: Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. 

You can have insanely strong abdominal muscles without having a six pack, or even a four pack! As humans, we all have abs – they’re just sometimes covered up in fat and therefore we can’t see them!

If you want a killer six pack, there are tons of exercises that will help you achieve your goal, but you need to eat right in order to see that washboard-type physique that everyone dreams of!

So that’s step #1. Make sure that your diet is clean in order to maximize your results. A myth that floats around the fitness world is that in order to become more “defined,” you need to do high reps. So instead of doing heavy weight for 8-10 reps, you should do lighter weight for 20-30 reps. This is a MYTH!

It doesn’t matter whether you choose to do high reps or low reps. It all comes down to breaking down your muscles, tearing fibers, and then feeding them the nutrients required in order to re-build them.

If you’re looking to get “cut,” “defined,” or you really want to show off your abs, you’ll need to be in a caloric deficit. Simply put, you need to burn more calories than you consume. This is how you shed body fat and bring your ab muscles (or any other muscle group) out.

You have to be careful with getting caught up in always having perfect abs, especially if you’re looking to put on muscle mass in other areas. In order to gain mass, size, and weight, you need to be in a caloric surplus versus a caloric deficit. When you eat more calories than normal, it’s gonna be tough to keep your abs looking as good as before.

Trying to achieve both muscle gain and fat loss at the same time is not physically possible. 

Don’t worry though. Just try to workout in phases, either bulking, cutting, or maintaining. If you are bulking, expect a little more body fat all around. If you are cutting, really focus on your diet, eating clean, doing a bit more cardio, etc.

Another myth that I hear all the time is related to “spot reduction.” This concept makes me laugh. Some people believe that if you’re looking to lose some fat around your belly, you can just do some core work and hop on a treadmill to spot reduce the area. LIES! Plain and simple, that’s just not the way your body works.

If you are in a caloric deficit, you will lose weight all the way around your body, not just in one area. It all comes down to your diet, as previously mentioned.

Alright, so now that we’ve dispelled some myths and you know a little bit more about the diet aspect, here are some techniques and tips you can use to help you develop a sweet six pack:

#1: Don’t train your abs everyday. Just like any other muscle, your abs need adequate time to rest. You’ll be tearing down your fibers as you train, so allow them enough time to recover and grow! I recommend training them twice a week.

#2: Try to train your abs after you’re finished with the rest of your workout. That way you’ll be able to exert maximum effort and give “everything you have left in the tank.” I also recommend working on your abs with an empty stomach because you’ll be able to get a better contraction and squeeze at the top, improving your gains. 

#3: Learn how to do stomach vacuums. This exercise will help you work your deep core, also known as your TVA (transversus abdominis muscle). This isn’t a muscle that is visible, but it is critical in developing a great set of abs. The TVA is responsible for pulling your abdominals back and keeping them tight toward your body. Nobody wants to have abs that bulge forward! This is a wonderful exercise for creating “v-lines,” or the adonis belt that goes from your obliques down to your groin.

Try different abdominal exercises out and see what works best for you. Not everyone’s body is the same and you will react differently to a particular exercise than I will.

Here are some exercises that I use that have really helped me boost my progress:

  • Stomach vacuums
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Crunches on a medicine ball
  • V-ups
  • Weighted decline sit ups
  • Planks
  • Cable cruches
  • Jack knives
  • In and outs
  • Alternating toe touches

There are plenty of exercises out there and you can find even more with a simple search, but if you hit your abs hard with these few basic ones you’ll be well on your way. Aim for doing 20-30 reps and about 3 sets per exercise, twice per week.

Eat clean, train mean, and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to develop six pack abs!

Creatine 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Creatine is a wonderful and safe supplement that anyone can use to help them get stronger and pack on muscle mass. I’ve received numerous questions about creatine over the past few months, so I decided to make a blog post to dispel all of the myths and hopefully teach you a thing or two!

First things first, what is creatine and what does it do for you? It is an organic acid that actually is already in your body, it’s natural. It is mostly in your vertebrae and it provides tons of great benefits. It provides your muscles with energy, it helps increase the size of your muscles, it helps reduce lactic acid, and it increases protein synthesis.

One of the best things about creatine is that there aren’t really any side effects. The only thing that may happen is a slight bloated feeling. Some people complain of muscle cramps and dehydration, but that just means you’re not drinking enough water! You neeCreatined to drink a bit more than normal, because a lot of the water you put in your system will get pushed into your muscles. It is normal to gain a few pounds of water weight, too.

Alright, so now you need to go out and buy some creatine monohydrate. You don’t need any flavor-filled creatine/mass builder/weight gainer combination, just a tub of creatine monohydrate. I get a 200-gram tub that last about two or three months. It’s flavorless, cheap, and it’s proven to work. 

You should take 5 grams of creatine per day. You don’t need to do it at any specific time, however I normally just throw a scoop in my post-workout shake.

You may have heard of the term “loading” when people talk about creatine. All this term means is the period of time where you increase your daily dose of creatine. This will obviously increase the level of creatine in your body pretty rapidly. Most people claim that the ideal “loading phase” is about a week, and you should take roughly 15-20 grams per day for that week. You want to saturate your body with this supplement. Loading is not necessary, but I recommend you do it because your results will come quicker and creatine is super cheap. 

Once you’re done with your loading phase, it’s onto the maintenance phase. All you need to do now is keep taking 5g per day and try to keep drinking plenty of water. You can choose whether or not you want to cycle on and off. I recommend you stay on this supplement for about 4-6 weeks, then take a couple weeks off.

Creatine is guaranteed to help you lift more weight and see progress in your strength and muscle size!

Protein Sludge – Easy Recipe For Muscle Growth!

Do you ever get sick and tired of the same old protein shake after your workout? If so, it’s time for you to meet “Protein Sludge.”

This recipe is designed for you to achieve your protein needs without consuming the same ol’ shake everyday. Protein sludge is a mixture of protein powder, a binding agent, and liquid (such as water or milk).

sludgeYou can get pretty creative with these recipes, throwing in all sorts of berries, fruit, nuts, or whatever you like. However, I suggest you stick with the basic recipe for the first time and then build on that.

So here’s the most common recipe for “Protein Sludge:”

  • Two tablespoons of Peanut Butter (substitute almond butter if you prefer)
  • 2 Scoops of Whey Protein
  • Water (start with just a little, mix, then add more to desired consistency)

This works with many different flavors of protein, so get creative! I’ve only tried this with vanilla whey and cookies and cream, but I’m sure strawberry and brownie would taste wonderful too!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a powerful snack that will help you meet your protein requirements with a consistency of yogurt and ice cream, try out Protein Sludge today! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Work On Your Craft – Everyday

It doesn’t matter what sport you play, but if you want to be an elite athlete in your particular field, you need to work on your craft every single day. It doesn’t always have to be running sprints, lifting, taking a full BP, or playing nine innings – it can be as simple as taking 25 dry swings.

The key is, you have to do this EVERYDAY!

I truly believe that hitting is based on “feelings.” It may sound a little weird, but just imagine your best game you’ve ever had at the plate. Do you remember feeling like you couldn’t swing and miss? It’s one of the greatest experiences a baseball player can have, and hopefully you can maintain that feeling for as long as possible!

What you should focus on each day is striving to find that same ‘good vibes’ feeling that you had when you were swinging it so well at the plate! Sure, you can work on mechanics sometimes, but you should always swing or throw until you get that feeling, then stop. At that point you’ve gotten some work in and you’re ready to move on.

Whether you had a really busy day at school or work or you just can’t find the time to get a longer workout in, make sure you try to improve your craft everyday and try to get that feeling!

Be An Athlete!

My dad and I always seem to find time to talk about baseball and hitting. I came home from college for the weekend, just to catch up with my parents and my sister.

It was nice to sleep in my own bed and have some home-cooked meals instead of dorm food!

Anyway, just like always, my dad and I started to talk about our thoughts on hitting. One of the things we talked about was how some hitters (including myself) can ocasionally get too comfortable in the box and almost become passive.

There’s a huge difference between passive and staying relaxed, and some players flirt with that fine line. When you become too passive and comfortable in the box, your body is not sprung and ready to hit. This can lead to less success at the plate, poor pitch recognition, and a plethora of other issues.

So obviously the goal is to avoid becoming too passive in the box, but how do we accomplish this goal?

You can think about different mechanical features that may help you, such as starting in a wider position, taking an aggressive stride toward the ball, etc. You can also think about being mentally “aggressive” and ready to crush the baseball instead of “seeing it, then hitting it.”

But why not simplify the whole hitting approach in general?

My dad began to tell me a story this weekend about a coworker he golfed with last month. This coworker is a really good golfer, he was actually on a Division-I college golf team back in the day.

This coworker said that his golf coach would tell the team one thing, and one thing only on the day of the tournament. “Be an athlete!”

This can directly relate to any sport, but baseball in particular! I think we, as players and coaches can get so wrapped up in the swing mechanics and the mental approach that we completely forget to let ourselves or our athletes be just that.. ATHLETES! 

You have to be athletic to play a sport at a high level. This includes baseball. Granted, not every MLB player you see is in tremendous shape or has blazing speed, but they all have athletic skills.

So here’s what I want you to think about, especially when hitting:  Be an athlete! Sometimes you have to forget about the mechanics. Sometimes you have to forget about everything you’re thinking’ about and just be athletic and HIT!

That’s all for now! Have a great week and remember, BE AN ATHLETE!

Justin

Studying the Pitcher – 5 ACTIONABLE Tips You Can Implement Today

I get questions all the time from players who are looking for little tips and tricks to improve their game. It’s great to see players of all ages who want to improve, but some guys think that there’s a magic pill or potion out there that’s going to help you hit .450.

That’s not how it works.

The recipe for success in baseball is simple: hard work and plenty of repetitions, but there’s a catch! You need to practice and take reps at the correct fundamentals, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

One of these fundamentals, In my eyes, is studying the pitcher and working on your mental game. I see so many players who are more concerned with the way their swing looks rather than the results it gets them on the field! This is just absolutely backwards! If baseball is more than 80% mental, then why do we spend less than 20% of the time on it!?

In the video below, I share with you 5+ actionable tips that you can use right now (today!) to implement in your baseball game and see growth and success.

Studying the pitcher is very important and it can help you drastically when it’s your turn to hit. Stop screwing around in the dugout. Watch your teammates at-bats. Learn what pitches he throws. Just because he can’t get his curveball over the plate early in the game doesn’t mean he won’t find it later in the game!

Watch this:

 

Talk With Your Skills, Not Your Mouth

Do you have a big pet peeve? Something that really annoys you?

I have a big one — and it actually has to do with baseball! I made
a 5 minute rant video about it, and it just finished uploading. You
can check it out here:

Anyway, something you always have to realize is that scouts,
recruiters, and coaches are always watching. Your actions on and
off the field matter — and you can literally make one mistake on
the field and it could cost you a scholarship.

Don’t make that mistake! Watch this video!

Justin

1 Easy Method to Improve Your Batting Average

If you’re looking to raise your batting average, this video and this blog post are very important for you. You see, the first step in raising your batting average and becoming a better hitter is to forget about your batting average! It may sound hard to do, but you need to start worrying about consistently putting together quality bats, game in and game out.

A quality about can be a variety of different things. If there’s less than two outs and a runner on third base, hit a deep fly ball and get that run in! Sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts, and anything else that will help your team win may be considered a quality at bat.

In my opinion, I believe college and professional baseball should start to develop a quality at-bat system instead of the batting average. There should be something like a quality at-bats champion at the end of the year instead of having a batting average title winner!

Don’t get me wrong, the batting average is important, but it should NOT be part of your mindset at the plate or in your daily thought process. When you step in the box, you should not be thinking about what your batting average will be if you get some hits or what it won’t be if you strike out. You should worry about creating a quality at-bat every time.

Now a simple thing that will help you increase your batting average is to be ready to hit when you step in the box. I see so many youth, high school, college, and even professional hitters watch a first pitch fastball right down the middle of the plate. You should be ready to compete, battle, and when each pitch! Every pitcher is trying to get ahead in the count on every single hitter. No pitcher wants to throw a first pitch fastball high or in the dirt, inside or outside, they want to throw a strike. As a hitter, you need to counteract this and be ready to hit the first pitch. If it’s a curveball or any sort of offspeed pitch, lay off it. That’s what you have two more strikes for. But never, and I repeat never, miss a first pitch fastball. Most of the time, that first pitch fastball may be the best pitch you will receive that entire at-bat.

Enjoy the video and make sure you leave a comment on this blog post and share it with all your friends! I’ll see you soon!