Where’s the best place to spot Red Sox players Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury during the off-season? Head to a gym in Phoenix called Athletes’ Performance, where they come to train two hours a day to stay in shape and prepare for the upcoming season.
“We do speed work focusing on movement and technique,” company vice president Craig Friedman, who helps train the two athletes, said in a phone interview. “How do you move from point a to point b to steal a base or field a ball? How can we help you do this better with less chance of an injury?”
He also counsels them on the importance of sleep, self-massage to relieve soreness, and what they need to eat to help build muscle -- all lessons that the rest of us, who aren’t Major Leaguers, can learn.
“Not everyone is a professional athlete, but we all deserve to be supported like one,” said Friedman. You can pretend he’s in your basement training you while you follow his tips for athletes.
1. Work out smarter. “Baseball players in season often have time only for a 15-minute workout before or after a game, so we have to figure out how to accomplish what we need to do in the shortest amount of time possible,” said Friedman. His advice when you’re strapped for time? Combine cardiovascular and resistance training by doing a weight circuit: do one set of repetitions for each muscle group, alternating from biceps, to triceps, to quadriceps and so on without taking a break in between sets.
If you just want to do an aerobic activity, crank up the intensity by increasing to a sprint for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds at a medium pace. Repeat six to eight times. “See how tired you feel after 10 minutes of sprint intervals,” he said, “compared to just working out at a steady pace.”
2. Integrate recovery into your routine. “We train athletes really hard, but it’s really easy to waste that effort if you don’t allow the body to recover and prepare for the next round of activity,” said Friedman.
If you’ve worked out for an hour or longer, you probably need to eat a recovery snack afterward to help your body restore its supply of glycogen (stored glucose). But that doesn’t give you license to dig into the ice cream or doughnuts. Instead, have a 100- to 150-calorie shake that’s a mix of protein and carbohydrates, recommends Friedman.
(Google the term “recovery shake” and you’ll see a lot of options from food manufacturers.)
Other options: a piece of fruit with a few slices of turkey, half a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of nuts and raisins. Also, remember to drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids.
Adequate sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours a night, is also vital to allow your body to heal those micro-tears in your muscles that result from exercise. “You also need to get good quality sleep,” said Friedman, so try to wind down before bedtime by dimming the lights and engaging in a relaxing activity.
3. Engage in self-massage. Massaging muscles will help them regenerate and grow between workouts. “Muscles also remain more supple and less prone to soreness,” said Friedman, who teaches athletes self-massage techniques that the rest of us, without trainers, can perform.
Grab a tennis ball, massage stick, or foam roller (sold online on fitness websites for about $20) and place it over whatever muscle you want to massage -- back of thigh, shoulders, abdomen, lower back -- and then roll it back and forth over the muscles to knead them. Here’s a video from the Core Performance website, which is affiliated with Athlete’s Performance, that shows you how to do it.
Check out our new Get Moving fitness blog for tips on staying motivated and fitting exercise into your day.