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How You Can Become A Bench Monster Instead Of A Bench Warmer!

This article discusses the approach one should take to step up and step down for no one, from mentally preparing yourself to training your way to the top. Here's a look at a leg circuit training routine and more. Learn more.

By: Jay Johnson

Article Summary:
  • To be a great baseball player, you must continue when others quit.
  • Do some plyometric training to build strength in your legs.
  • Jumping rope is a great way to build cardiovascular strength.
  • Are you tired of being who guy always watching the quarterback throw the game-winning touchdown, the clean-up hitter hit that walk-off homerun or the star point guard hit the 3-pointer to put the game away?

    If so, then prepare yourself for the road to success paved by this article. Nobody ever said it was an easy road and after all, if it was then why would you want to take it?

    This article will discuss the approach one should take to step up, step into the spotlight and step down from no one, from mentally preparing yourself to training your way to the top.

    Earning your way into the lineup and going from being "that guy" to being "The Man" is much more possible than you could have ever imagined. With hard work, you could be the one sending the other team home hanging their heads.

    This Article Will Discuss The Approach One Should Take To Step Up, Step Into The Spotlight, And Step Down For No One.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    This Article Will Discuss The Approach One Should Take To
    Step Up, Step Into The Spotlight, And Step Down For No One.

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    Mentally Preparing For The Journey
    dot

    As one should always, we begin by stepping back and mentally preparing for the journey ahead, the obstacles which could stand in the way and how we will conquer them.

    You must constantly ask yourself the question, "Do you wanna be good, or do you wanna be great?" This question always comes to mind when everyone is tired and just wants to go home and end practice early and forces to push on for just "one more."

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    Training For Baseball!
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    Hugo Rivera

    A WestPoint fitness trainer once told me that a workout doesn't begin until you are tired. With this being said, let everyone else go home so you can let your workout begin, whenever you are not working, someone else is.

    One who truly wants to be the king of the mountain one day must never stop because it's too hot, or because it's raining, but must push through no matter what, letting the dedication drip from his brow.

    You are a machine, a monster and nothing can step in your way on the road to the top and if it does, you will squash it. It's like Cleveland Browns' tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. once said, "I'm a soldier!"

    You Are A Machine, A Monster, And Nothing Can Step In Your Way On The Road To The Top.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Are A Machine, A Monster, And Nothing Can
    Step In Your Way On The Road To The Top.

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    Moving On To The Training
    dot

    Now that we have the mental aspect on lock, realize our goal and know that we will achieve it no matter the obstacle, let's move on to the more physical aspect of accomplishing this feat, training.

    As a baseball player for 15 years I have been through many team practices from the end of the school day until the sun goes down. Most athletic teams (especially high school and up) hold practice almost every day there is not a game, but how many of these players practice even more once they get home?

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    I know once you are finished with a long, hard practice you don't want to go on, but I can promise you see the results of your work come game day.

    If you want to be great at something, you must do something about it every single day on top of what is required. Depending on the sport, this can be achieved in many different ways. If you are a baseball player you can go to the batting cage for some extra swings or if you are a football player you can do push-ups or jump rope at home.

    No matter the case, you have to keep in mind that you will only get out of something what you put into it. As Gen. George S. Patton once said, "If a man does his best, what else is there?"

    You Have To Keep In Mind That You Will Only Get Out Of Something What You Put Into It.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Have To Keep In Mind That You Will Only
    Get Out Of Something What You Put Into It.

    The specific ways you can increase your performance will be discussed in the following paragraphs, but it is important to first know that you have never done enough if you still have some left in the tank. With that being said, let's increase our performance in a big way.

    No matter the sport, it is important to remember that speed kills and in this case it will be the opposition you will be killing.

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    Plyometric Training
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    In order to achieve this, I put a lot of faith in plyometric training with something we used to call "leg circuits" for baseball; of course they can be used by any athlete in order to build speed.

    Leg circuits are performed as 3-to-4 sets consisting of quick squats, lunges, box jumps and squat jumps all performed as one giant set. The sets are to be performed as depicted below:

    dot Quick Squats: dot

      Quick squats begin the circuit and are the easiest to perform out of the exercises, that is at least for the first set. These are performed by squatting (as you would in a barbell squat) all the way to the floor or into a "catcher's stance" and exploding back up to the beginning position. If these feel easy once again trust me, after a couple of sets they will become much more difficult.


    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Quick Squats.
    Video Guide: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

    dot Lunges: dot

      Lunges come next and are performed once again just as you would with dumbbell lunges. These will be done for three sets as in the chart and you will do 10 on each leg in order to reach the set of 20.


    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Lunges.
    Video Guide: Windows Media - Real Player

    dot Box Jumps: dot

      Now that your legs are beginning to warm up for what lies ahead, you move on to box jumps. The box jumps are where the true explosion begins to take place and you should begin to feel the burn.

    Plyometric Box Jumps, Step 1 Plyometric Box Jumps, Step 2 Plyometric Box Jumps, Step 3
    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Box Jumps.
    Video GuideMPEG - Windows Media - Real Player

    dot Squat Jumps: dot

      Finishing off the circuit is the squat jump or as we used to call them, "frog leaps." Starting in a squat position or catcher's stance once again, you then spring into the air as high as you can.


    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Jump Squat.
    Video Guide: Windows Media - Real Player

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    The Benefits Of Leg Circuits
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    Later on in your training you can incorporate more resistance by holding a 5-to-10 pound dumbbell in each hand. I learned this reading an article about Philadelphia Phillies' shortstop Jimmy Rollins who was and still is one of the fastest men in Major League Baseball.

    Leg circuits are great for many reasons with the primary one being that you can perform them without the use of any equipment.

    I have heard many coaches over the years make the statement, "You can't teach speed," but it is definitely something that can be obtained with the hard work and dedication we have focused on thus far.

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    I recommend that leg circuits be done three times a week, after workouts or practices in order to add that extra mile to your workload which is what we want.

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    Building Cardiovascular Strength
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    Another great tool used to develop speed is the timeless jump rope. Jumping rope is another exercise that you can do anywhere at any time and is a great way to build up cardiovascular strength as well as speed.

    Typically when I was training for baseball, I jumped rope each day after practice building up to 1,000 reps, which usually took approximately 20 minutes to complete.

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    Although leg circuits are a great way to build up both speed and strength, the most important thing you should do as an athlete in training is to run.

    No matter what sport you participate in, chances are at some point you will run. Running can not only make you faster but it also builds your endurance better than anything else, and that will never change.

    I remember the days of training when it was pouring rain outside and what do you do? You run through the gym and out the door into the rain to complete your 2-mile run for the day.

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    It is truly the best feeling in the world to walk back into the gym soaked completely through your clothes knowing that nothing could possibly keep you from your goals and your dreams.

    As an athlete, you must have a steady running regimen in order to stay conditioned enough to complete the tasks demanded of you in your respective sport. This can be specified to each sport by training with primarily sprints or by long-distance running.

    You Must Have A Steady Running Regimen In Order To Stay Conditioned Enough To Complete The Tasks Demanded Of You.
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Must Have A Steady Running Regimen In Order To Stay
    Conditioned Enough To Complete The Tasks Demanded Of You.

    As baseball players, we always did a lot of sprint training since you are idle a lot with short spells of sprinting in between. The sprinting workout we used and I feel is a great one to have is shown below:

    • 60 yards 10 reps (jogging back to starting point in between reps)
    • 40 yards 10 reps (jogging back to starting point in between reps)
    • 30 yards 10 reps (jogging back to starting point in between reps)
    • 10 yards 10 reps (jogging back to starting point in between reps)

    This form of sprint training is one you will never get used to, which is what makes it so great! This workout will put a hurt on you no matter how conditioned you are.

    As far as long distance running goes, this was not the primary focus of our baseball workout but it was the focus of the football workouts I accompanied players in. We would go through our entire leg workout consisting of squats, lunges, leg presses, etc. all before we ever made it to the track.

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    Conclusion
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    As stated before, a workout has not begun until you are tired and this is that principal at its best. One to two miles should be run at least every other day in order to build endurance. I recommend that these miles be ran around an eight and a half minute pace in order to build the stamina you need to outlast the opposition.

    Two methods have been discussed which can dramatically increase your stamina as well as your speed, two things one must have in order to compete in any sport and make a statement. Although only two factors were mentioned, there are many more ways to step your game up and make being "The Man" a reality.

    The next time practice ends and everyone else goes home, stay after and run some extra sprints or do some extra push-ups. These are the things that cannot be taught and the coach will notice more than anything else you could do.

    The most important thing you will build in all of this is your heart, which without you will never make it to the top and if you do you will not be there for long.

    The transformation from a "Bench Warmer" to a "Bench Monster" is something that you must dedicate everything to and with that dedication anything is possible. Start today and along with the principals mentioned in this article develop your own ideas and tools to personalize your road to the top. No matter the road always remember, "If a man does his best, what else is there?"

    Sources:

    1. "George S. Patton Quotes." Brainy Quote. 16 July 2008 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgespa103560.html.
    2. Simmons, Bill. "The NFL and "Goodfellas" Part II." ESPN.Com. 16 June-July 2008 http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/040909.

    How You Can Become A Bench Monster Instead Of A Bench Warmer!

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