EP104 – Is Core Training for Baseball Overrated? Plus, Garbage Time in the Weight Room


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Is core training for baseball overrated? Dan discusses what core training does and doesn’t do for an athlete. Also in this episode, Dan talks about what garbage time in the weight room is and if it is useful.

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Transcript: EP104 – Is Core Training Overrated? Plus, Garbage Time in the Weight Room

Hey there, Dan Blewett here. Thanks so much for tuning in before we get started, I want to share a little bit about a new project of mine. Early work is an online strength training program created as a collaboration between myself and one of my good friends, coach Andrew Sacks. So in the early work program, obviously my YouTube skills are coming in handy here.

You’re going to get 4k quality videos. Great audio of me and coach Sacks, teaching every exercise in the program, workouts change monthly, and he and I collaborate to build each new month as the program changes and evolves in season off season. Just trying to make sure players peak and are at their best at every point of the year.

So between the two of us, we have 20 plus years of experience training baseball players. I was a baseball Academy owner strength coach. Andrew’s still. A strength coach owns a facility here in the Baltimore area, and our program has three different plans, one for individuals, one for families. So that includes your extended family and one for teams.

So no matter who you are and who you’re looking for a program for, we’ve got a plan for you. So if you want to try the program out, we offer a 14 day free trial, so you can sign up. Get to work, try it out in your local gym. See if it fits your life and your goals and all that good stuff. Obviously we stand by it.

We’ve been doing this a long time, so give it a shot today. Try the early work strength program. We know you’re going to love it.

All right. Welcome back to Dear Baseball Gods. In today’s episode, we’re going to cover. Two main topics. Number one is core training overrated. It’s definitely a buzzword. What we’re going to talk about core training and what it does and doesn’t do for an athlete. And secondly, we’re going to talk about garbage time in the weight room.

So this is a kind of important concept. You may or may not know what garbage time means. I’ll tell you right now. It’s just like the extra time you have leftover doing any sort of thing. But so we’ll talk about the meaning of garbage time in a workout and whether it can actually be useful in helping to keep an athlete motivated.

All right. So first topic here is core training overrated. Yes, it absolutely is. It’s something that parents would often come through my doors and say, Yeah, I know my son or my daughter needs to know and needs more core strengthen, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And well-meaning, I mean, core strength is a buzzword.

It’s been a buzzword for a while. There’s a lot of buzz words. There’s a functional strength, which has no real meaning. You know, there’s sport-specific, which has meaning, but is still very buzzy and doesn’t mean quite as much as I think folks think it does, and then there’s core strength and core training.

And. Core strength is important, right? So we transmit force from our lowered upper half or upper half to lower half, and it goes through the core. So the core is really just a joint, essentially where it you know, force us to travel through a dislike, you know, in an axel of a car. You know, there’s CV joints and there’s gears.

They transfer power from, you know, one direction from a drive shaft to the wheels, whatever. And so the core kind of does that too. It transfers power from one half to the other, and if done, right. It can sort of amplify that power. Right? We get that stretch reflex from a shorter hip separation when we’re hitting throwing or swinging a golf club.

So it has sort of like these elastic properties in the core where you can get a little bit of a rubber band effect and get more than just the sum of the parts, essentially. But when we think of core training, what we often think about is planks and plank variations and sit-ups and stuff like that.

But in reality, There’s two types of core strengths. So there’s like core stability. And that’s what planks are like when we’re teaching our core to brace and to have some endurance. And then there’s sort of like explosive stuff like throwing medicine balls. Right? So a swinging bat is very much like a throwing a medicine ball.

And so we’re trying to teach our core to be more explosive and to transmit power better. So the ladder, you know, the throwing medicine balls and the explosive core work, that certainly has a significant role in increasing bat speed, increasing pitching velocity like throwing medicine. Balls is very sports specific.

You know to throw out a buzzword. And it definitely has a role again, in building baseball civic, strength, core stability has sort of like an injury prevention rule. Because every time you swing a bat, you have to decelerate that bat. Right. So we’re winding up and then we’re unwinding and unleashing with all this explosive force.

And then we have to slow it back down right away. Right. So there’s rotational power and then there’s anti-rotation so we kind of train both of those in the gym, but here’s the thing and my bigger point here is when an athlete is weak. It’s not typically because of their core. It’s not like that’s why they’re weak.

Really core training has its place as helping the rest of the body get stronger and stiffer, but the core is more of a means to an end. In my view, obviously again, we like training it to throw things faster. Like again, medicine balls is important, but as far as like, what core’s role is, why we do planks, why we do core strength, part of it is to bolster the body so that we can actually pile more weight on and make

Ourselves overall stronger than we are. Now, if you go into the West side barbell manuals, this was Louie Simmons, you know, on the like the fathers of power lifting. He was always preaching that, you know, the weak links in a squatter or a dead lifter, and they made some crazy strong people came out of West side barbell.

They’re always trying to bolster up the weak, weak links and in a squat or deadlift, the weak link which is typically the back the hamstrings and the core. So if you could squat, if your legs were strong enough to squat, 600 pounds, but your back folded over and start to round over. Then you can’t squat 600 pounds, even though your legs could do it.

So you have to do a tons of rows and heavy rows and high rep rows and low rep rows and different variations of rows to make your back really, really strong and thick to support that 600 pound barbell on your back, that your legs could otherwise do. You know, they could handle same thing with your core.

Your core strength of your core is too weak. You’re not going to be able to keep your body upright and erect to hold that 600 pound barbell on your back. Whether it’s a front squat or a back squat, either way, you have to build your core strength up. So they’re always building core strength and doing variations of crunches and weighted crunches and all sorts of stuff to build up their course of their core could withstand and, and be braced and be like that bridge underneath the really heavy load.

Of the cars above it, essentially. So in my view, that’s more of the role of the back. That’s the role of the core, and that’s also the role and the hamstrings, even though the hamstrings are a little bit more of a prime mover in sprinting and agility and change directions like that. So the core to me is we need to get your core strong so that we can put more weight on your back.

So that you can get bigger and stronger and swing the baseball bat faster. We want to get your core stronger so we can put more weight on the bar so you can deadlift more. So you get faster, right? Those it’s that sort of my view of the core that it’s building your armor and is building your foundation is building a strong chassis so we can put more weight on it.

So you can get bigger and stronger. That is a, I think a good way to put it. And so for young athletes sure. Like they run around, like they had a growth spur or they’re just kind of still like, they got all their baby fat and they just kind of run around like a jellyfish and you can see they’re, not very well connected with their body and everything’s kind of loosey goosey.

Like, yeah, they do kind of lack core strengths, but they lack all over strength. Right. So just doing a bunch of planks and stuff, that’ll help a little, but. Not really that much, really their whole body just needs to get stronger and everything sort of tightens up together. But again, when you have a kid who’s young and weak and he can’t run very fast and he can’t squat very much weight.

We need to build up his back so you can put a heavier load on it. We need to build up his core so he can support heavier loads. So we can ultimately put heavier weight on his back to squat him and do one leg lunge, variations, and farmer’s walks and all these other things that require load and require good posture.

And require a stiff cores that you don’t hurt your back. All those exercises that are so good for building strength and building a formidable athlete, they require core strength and back strength and hamstring strength as the sort of like the big foundation to allow those, those bigger lifts to continue to grow and to get stronger.

So hopefully that overview of core strength helps because I think it’s misunderstood thing. And again, I think the role of the core is more often than not to build that really strong chassis to carry the load of all the more rigorous strength exercises that we’re going to place on top of it.

All right. And our second topic today, let’s talk about garbage time. So one of my mentors, a guy named Nick Tumminello, who is a prominent strength educator today, he does a lot of clinics and presentation seminars all over the world. He was a personal trainer who was just booked solid,like morning till night.

For a long, long, long, long time as a personal trainer and then eventually transitioned to coaching personal trainers and being an educator, all that stuff. And he a long time ago before I actually really had much application for it, he would talk a little bit about certain like vanity exercise, right?

Like everyone hates on bicep curls and some of the glamour muscles. Right. You know, everyone has this negative connotation about that athlete that comes in the weight room and doesn’t really work that hard, but you know, works really hard when it comes to doing some bicep curls in the mirror because he wants his beach muscles.

Right. And one of the things he told me was he’s like, look. A lot of really good strength coaches. And he said, and I do this too. You know, people have certain insecurities and egos and they want to feed them. And he said, as long as they get what I want, Done, which is the big stuff, right?

Like I want them to have balance. I want them to fix some of their movement patterns that need work, right? Like I want to help them hinge better at their hips so they can pick things up when they’re older, I wanna help them hinge their hips so they can sprint better on the field too. He’s like, I want them to push and pull and get balanced.

I want them to get posterior chain work, you know, their hips and their glutes and their hamstrings in a better balance than what their quads and all this stuff he says, I want balance. And I want to give them a good quality workout, but. That last little, five minutes, 10 minutes. If they’ve worked hard and done what I want them to do.

It’s not going to matter if they do bicep curls for the last five minutes or 10 minutes. It’s not going to matter if they do a couple extra sets of bench press. It’s not going to matter if they do this or that, or, you know, do their shoulders. Cause they think their shoulders are kind of small and they want to get bigger shoulders.

So they look better in the mirror. They look better in a fitted shirt. He said that stuff ultimately in the long run is going to help people stay more positive about their body. Positive about their training, motivated to come in the gym because they get to do some of the stuff that they want.

Right? Like not everything in the gym is fun. And so if they feel like at the end, and if they’ve done their, they’ve done their chores essentially. And now they get to do, you know, their bicep curls in the mirror and that makes them kind of happy. and again, maybe feeds their insecurity in a positive way.

You said, so be it, he’s saying that’s never going to wreck that last five or 10 minutes. It’s never, we’re gonna wreck all the other hard quality work that they put in. And so I kind of kept that in my back pocket for a long time. Cause when I was doing my internship, I didn’t really train anyone at that point.

I was still in college and even out of college, it wasn’t really a situation where we had that many athletes as I first started out on my own. And as it grew and grew and grew, there were more athletes who they’ve been in the program for five years. They’ve been doing the right stuff with us for three years and they started asking like, Hey, can I do bench?

Can I do some of these this day? And we’re like, You know, the inclination is like, no, no, no, that’s a dumb exercise. Like you don’t need to do bicep curls, but then we’re like, yeah, you’ve been working hard for four years in here. Like you’ve been killing it. You, you do good work every day. Go knock yourself out.

You want to go do bicep curls, so you have a little bit bigger, you know, you look a little bit better for te ladies or whatever. Go do it. Absolutely. So we started to do this a little bit more and just were kind of lax about it because I thought back to my own training and to, to Nick’s words and, and it does ring true, just like with nutrition.

The best nutritionist are like, look, if you, you know, if you eat four meals a day or three meals a day, whatever your dietary outlook is, you know, that’s say 30 meals a week, or let’s say 25 meals a week. They said, if you’re good with 90% of them, the last couple, those couple cheat meals are not going to matter.

So if you want to go out and have pizza on Saturday night, you know, with your wife or girlfriend, you want to have, you know, a couple of drinks on Saturday. You know, and, and have a big bowl of ice cream, you know, so you have two meals out of 25 that aren’t that good. Absolutely not going to wreck your diet if your diet is otherwise on point, right.

But if it’s like 30% of your meals or 20% of your meals, then it’s going to start to trickle in and things aren’t going to be as good. So, you know, result, they’re not going to be as fast. So I think that’s important. So I guess what I would say and the point here, because a lot of us know our parents and, and coaches is.

Think about garbage time in your son or your team’s training. So if there’s a two hour practice, what do your kids always beg you to do? Do they want to do something? Do they want to like try to hit bombs over the fence? Do they want to play rundown? Do they want to play a game? Do they want to, what is it that they kind of beg you to do?

And can you fit in 15 minutes of it in every practice? Can you find a way to fit in stuff that makes them happy and excited? And even if it’s not really that beneficial on the field rather than being full on militaristic a hundred percent of your time. And I, and believe me, I do know that coaches don’t get enough practice time with their teams, and it feels sad to give away any amount of it because sometimes only two hours a week or four hours a week or six hours a week.

And that’s not that much, even the high end of that range, I just quoted six hours a week is not that much practice time. So you feel hard pressed to really squeeze out the best of all of it. But. Again, long-term this is it for a lot of players, even if it’s, you know, 14 new baseball, sometimes that’s the, as far as kids will all go, they won’t play in high school.

Or if it’s 17U, they won’t play in college. So those little bits of fun where it’s garbage time and they got their work in and you guys can do something that they enjoy. I think there’s value to that. And I wish looking back that we had done a little bit more of that in my own practices. So, again, this goes for the weight room, it goes for on-field stuff.

It goes for all sorts of walks of life. That again, just find ways to continue to motivate yourself by allowing yourself to treat yourself essentially. Right. That’s kind of what it is. So again, you put in a hard workout for 50 minutes, the last 10 minutes, or your time to treat yourself to bigger biceps or.

It’s a bigger shoulders or again, whatever thing makes you happy, you can, a lot of times it was kids want to do planks because they didn’t want, you know, especially girls sometimes like, can I do, can I do extra core stuff? Like I want that, you know, that six pack, I want that those lines on my stomach were like, well, you know, crunches, aren’t really going to do that for you relates just your diet, but.

They’re just looking at us and we’re like, yeah, sure. Go, go, go do more core stuff. Do whatever makes you happy. And it really honestly is fine. Do whatever makes you happy in that last five or 10 minutes of garbage time? So hopefully that gets your gears going. And again, the application there I think is not only for the athletes in your life, but also your own life.

Right. So during the week, are you taking time for yourself? Are you doing things that make you happy in your workout or is it all just, you know, a bitter pill and an achy medicine? So really thinking about what you can do this upcoming week with your garbage time, that’s it for today’s episode of Dear Baseball Gods.

I’d greatly appreciate it. If you’d subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Don’t forget in the notes of this show, you’ll find links to my pitching manual Pitching Isn’t Complicated. My memoir, Dear Baseball Gods, my online video pitching courses and my new baseball strength training program called Early Work.

You can sign up right now for a free 14 day trial to early work. And if you’re interested in one of my online courses, you can save 20% on any one of them using the promo code baseball gods. Thanks again for listening and stay on your hustle. You never know, who’s watching. .

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