Copyright 2003
Coaching Pitchers
By Michael G. Marshall, Ph.D.

     Chapter Thirty-Two:   Physiology of Exercise

     Training Specificity and The Overload Principle are two principles basic to all training programs.   Both principles have equal importance.   Therefore, all training programs must equally incorporate these principles.  

         a.   Training Specificity

     Training Specificity requires training programs to specifically enhance competitive activities at competitive intensities.   Jumping jacks train athletes to do jumping jacks.   Running trains athletes to run.   All training specifically enhances what athletes do when training.   Throwing footballs does not train pitchers to pitch baseballs.   Footballs weigh more than baseballs.   Increased football weights increase throwing arm resistances and decrease throwing arm velocities.   Throwing footballs sixty miles per hour does not train pitchers to throw ninety-five miles per hour fastballs.  

             1.   Three Training Specificity Fitnesses

     Training specificity has two metabolic bases and one neuromuscular base.   Cardiovascular fitness and motor unit fitness are the two metabolic bases and specific motor unit contraction and relaxation sequence recall is the neuromuscular base.   All three bases are equally important to performances and performances reflect the least trained of the three bases.  

                 a)   Cardiovascular Fitness

     Maximum heart rate and maximum oxygen consumption are two genetic limitations to cardiovascular fitness.   However, training effects many other aspects of cardiovascular fitness.   The cardiovascular system changes differently with aerobic training programs than it does with anaerobic training programs.  

                     1)   Aerobic Cardiovascular Fitness

    Training programs are aerobic when athletes do not produce lactic acid.   Same training programs can be aerobic for some athletes, but anaerobic for other athletes.   The key factor is the athletes’ anaerobic fitness threshold for training programs.   For example, well-trained marathon runners operate aerobically at eighty percent of their maximum running intensity.   However, most other runners operate anaerobically at eighty percent of their maximum running intensity.  

     Aerobic training programs increase average capillary numbers supplying muscle fibers from the normal 4.4 capillaries to 5.9 capillaries.   Aerobic training programs increase heart chamber sizes.   Larger heart chambers increase blood volumes that hearts pump per beat.   Aerobic training programs also increase total blood volumes and hemoglobin numbers to transport oxygen molecules.  

                     2)   Anaerobic Cardiovascular Fitness

     Training programs are anaerobic when athletes produce lactic acid.   Training programs can be anaerobic for some, but aerobic for others.   Athletes achieve anaerobic thresholds for activities for which they have not trained at about forty percent of their maximum intensities.  

     Anaerobic training programs increase heart chamber wall thicknesses.   Anaerobic training programs increase heart chamber wall contractile strengths.   Increased heart chamber walls and increased heart chamber wall contractile strength empty heart chambers more completely and force blood through contracting muscle fiber constricted blood vessels.   While contracting muscles help push venous blood toward the heart, contracting muscles also impede arterial blood flow from the heart.  

                 b)   Motor Unit Fitness

     FTP, FTG and STO muscle fiber percentages, muscle attachment leverages and muscle tendon alignment leverages (pennate, bi-pennate or multi-pennate) are three genetic limitations to motor unit fitness.   Nevertheless, training effects many other aspects of motor unit fitness.   Motor unit systems react differently to aerobic and anaerobic training programs.  

                     1)   Aerobic Motor Unit Fitness

     Aerobic training programs increase heart chamber sizes.   Anaerobic training programs increase heart chamber wall thicknesses and contractile intensities.   However, to improve muscle fiber fitnesses in specific motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences, training programs must be very, very specific.  

     Aerobic training programs increase capillary numbers only to those muscle fibers in specific motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences.   Aerobic jumping jack programs increase capillary numbers to the muscle fibers in the specific jumping jack motor unit contraction and relaxation sequence.   Aerobic training programs hypertrophy STO muscle fibers and split STO muscle fibers to increase their number.   Aerobic training programs decrease the time required for STO muscle fibers to switch from metabolizing muscle glycogens to metabolizing muscle triglycerides.   Metabolizing muscle triglycerides resynthesizes several times more adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) than metabolizing muscle glycogen.   Therefore, when STO muscle systems metabolize muscle triglycerides, aerobic performances increase dramatically.

     Athletes describe the metabolizing as their 'second wind.' Aerobic training programs increase muscle glycogen and muscle triglyceride storage in STO muscle fibers, increase free fatty acid release from adipose tissue and increase the enzymes that help the mitachondrion metabolize these nutrients.   Aerobic training programs increase mitachondria numbers and sizes in STO muscle fibers and myoglobin numbers that carry oxygen molecules to the mitachondrion.   Aerobic training programs increase STO muscle fiber abilities to metabolize lactic acid which, ironically, increases anaerobic motor unit fitness.  

                     2)   Anaerobic Motor Unit Fitness

     Anaerobic training programs hypertrophy FTG muscle fibers and split FTG muscle fibers to increase their numbers.   Anaerobic training programs increase muscle glycogen storage in FTG muscle fibers and increase the glycolytic enzymes that metabolize this nutrient.   Anaerobic training programs increase FTG muscle fiber system abilities to continue to operate normally at higher lactic acid accumulations.  

                c)   Neuromuscular Fitness

     Neuromuscular fitnesses refer to athletes’ abilities to align central nervous system protoplasmic tissue into engrams.   Engrams trigger perfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences.   Neuromuscular Fitness and Motor Unit Fitness are very closely inter-related.   When athletes execute imperfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequence, they train the wrong motor units.   Consequently, the majority of training programs’ early portions must accentuate the learning perfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences for the specific activities.   Before aerobic or anaerobic training programs can increase specific motor unit fitnesses, they require perfect neuromuscular fitnesses.   To increase activity intensities from aerobic to anaerobic levels does not alter neuromuscular fitnesses.   To increase activity intensities requires athletes to decrease time intervals between motor unit contraction and relaxation for specific activities.  

                     1)   Ballistic Fitness

     In addition to aerobic and anaerobic physical activities, athletes perform ballistic physical activities.   In ballistic physical activities, athletes move their limbs at maximum velocities for single repetitions.   Pitching is one ballistic physical activity followed by another ballistic physical activity followed by another and so on.   Baseball batting, football punting, tennis serving, high jumping, longjumping, shotputting are other examples of ballistic physical activities.   Also, non-lactic acid producing sprint races are ballistic physical activities.   To train ballistic physical activities requires neuromuscular fitness emphasis.   In ballistic physical activities, athletes use the same motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences that aerobic and anaerobic athletes follow, but ballistic athletes minimize time intervals between specific motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences.  

         b.   Overload Principle

     The Overload Principle states that to stimulate the cardiovascular, motor unit and neuromuscular systems to physiologically adapt to higher fitness levels, athletes gradually increase resistances against which perfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences operate.

     During the first training program phase, athletes practice motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences at moderate intensities.   These early going-through-the-motions training days alert the cardiovascular, motor unit and neuromuscular systems that they have to physiologically adapt to withstand the increased demands.   Next, athletes gradually increase resistances.

     During the second training program phase, physiological systems mobilize their resources to meet the training overload demands.   While physiological systems mobilize resources, performances regress.   However, when athletes continue to judiciously increase resistances, physiological systems physiologically adapt to higher fitness levels.   With continued training, regression phases end in about two weeks.   The required physiological adaptations occur in about three weeks.

     After the required physiological adaptations occur, performances plateau.   To encourage further physiological adaptations, athletes must continue to very gradually increase resistances against which perfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences operate.   Athletes must always take great care not to exceed the three systems’ physiological limits or injuries occur.   When training injuries occur, athletes must return to low training intensities and re-start the process.

             1.   Detraining

     Physiological systems are amazing.   Daily training maintains or increases physiological systems’ abilities to withstand stress.   Positive results occur when athletes judicially increase resistances and daily training.   However, physiological adaptation stimuli last for twenty-four to thirty-six hours.   Therefore, unless athletes re-stimulate their physiological systems within twenty-four to thirty-six hours, their physiological systems return to pre-training fitness levels.   One non-training week (detraining) decreases training’s physiological benefits by fifty percent.   One detraining month completely removes training’s cardiovascular and motor unit benefits.

             2.   Retraining

     Retraining requires more time to regain training’s benefits than detraining reduces training’s benefits.   To regain two detraining weeks of physiological adaptations requires three retraining weeks.   Injury problems occur when athletes detrain for two weeks, then start retraining at pre-detraining intensities.   Fortunately, highly skilled athletes retain activity engrams.   With judiciously-applied retaining, athletes rapidly regain cardiovascular and motor unit fitnesses.   Previously trained physiological systems more rapidly regain fitnesses than had they never achieved these fitness levels.

             3.   Maintenance

     Even though previously highly-trained cardiovascular and motor unit systems regain fitnesses more rapidly than had they never previously achieved these levels of fitness, athletes should never permit them to decline.   Rather, athletes should maintain these fitnesses throughout their careers.   A few minutes of daily near competitive intensity training prevents fitness decline.   Physiological systems can train daily without regression.   However, athletes have to determine personal methods for preventing psychological boredom.   For pitchers, just knowing they can throw baseballs as hard as I can should motivate them to train daily.

         c.   Twenty Percent Principle

     Researchers found that increased muscle fiber cross-sectional diameter accounted for only twenty percent of those muscles increased weight lifting abilities.   Consequently, the remaining eighty percent of the increased training abilities result from central nervous system adaptations.   Training stimulates hormonal secretions that increase muscle growth, increase muscle contractility and decrease Golgi Tendon Organ dampening of trained reflexes.   Training decreases cerebellum’s dampening effect on ballistic movements.   Training increases myolinated motor nerve conduction velocities.   These central nervous system adaptations and engram formations explain eighty percent of training benefits.   Therefore, eighty percent of training must emphasize central nervous systems.   The Twenty Percent Principle completes the circle back to the Training Specificity Principle.   Training programs must specifically enhance specific motor skills at specific competitive intensities.

         d.   Arterial Blood Flow Principle

     At rest, twenty percent of total systemic blood flow goes to muscle tissues.   But, during maximum physical activities, ninety percent of total systemic blood flow goes to muscle tissues.   Exercise activates specific muscle fibers.   Increased contracting muscle fiber temperatures, increased contracting muscle fiber carbon-dioxide production, contracting muscle fiber lactic acid production and decreased contracting muscle fiber oxygen partial pressure trigger central nervous systems to redistribute arterial blood flow to those contracting muscle fibers.   When redistributing arterial blood flow, blood vessels to contracting muscle fibers vasodilate (open) to twice their normal sizes and blood vessels to non-contracting muscle fibers vasoconstrict (close) to one-half normal sizes.   Consequently, vasodilation and vasoconstriction redistribute arterial blood flow to provide 540 milliliters of oxygen to contracting muscle fibers without increasing cardiac output.   Therefore, the first training program exercise must activate the specific muscle fibers that the athletes are training.

         e.   Relaxation Instant Principle

     When muscles contract, they simultaneously squeeze venous blood out and prevent arterial blood flow from entering.   Without arterial blood flow, contracting muscles cannot receive nutrients.   Without nutrients, contracting muscles cannot sustain contractions.   Without sustaining contractions, athletes cannot continue exercising.   Therefore, exercising muscles must have relaxation instants during which arterial blood enters.   Consequently, athletes should use barbells only when they can stop contracting muscles for relaxation instants after repetitions.   To stop contracting muscles, athletes can either contract antagonistic (opposite) muscles or they can release the barbells.   For example, when athletes perform bench presses, they can rest the barbell on weight holders.

     Athletes frequently use hand-held barbells.   When athletes grip dumbbells, their gripping muscles remain contracted.   Therefore, athletes should wrap wrist or ankle weights around their limbs.   With weights wrapped around their limbs, athletes do not have to sustain muscle contractions to control the weights.   Also, athletes are less likely to lose control of wrapped weights.

         f.   Bi-Lateral Training Principle

     Whenever athletes perform exercises that stress muscles that attach to vertebral columns, they should equally train both sides.   Equalized bi-lateral muscular development helps vertebral columns to remain vertically aligned.   Also, whenever possible, athletes should simultaneously train bi-laterally.   However, when athletes cannot bi-laterally train simultaneously, they should train their non-dominant sides and, then, their dominant sides.   The only truly valuable cross-training occurs when non-dominant motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences cross over to their dominant sides.   Therefore, bi-lateral training produces symmetrical muscular development, reduces vertebral column mal-alignments and promotes perfect motor unit contraction and relaxation sequences.

         g.   Plioanglos Training Principle

     When pitchers accelerate pitches with maximum throwing arm velocities, their cerebellums keep those throwing arm velocities below their throwing arm deceleration capacities.   Under normal athletic circumstances, athletes cannot ballistically accelerate limbs to velocities from which they cannot easily decelerate to stops without injuries.   Therefore, to increase ballistic limb velocities, athletes must train ballistic deceleration muscles.   Decelerating ballistic limbs requires training muscles that are lenghtening to contract more powerfully.   I call this training, Plioanglos Training.

     Suppose someone offered you the opportunity to drive drag race cars capable of achieving record velocities in one-quarter mile tracks.   However, one hundred yards beyond finish lines are two thousand foot cliffs.   How fast would you drive these race cars? You ask, “How fast can I go and have my brakes stop me within one hundred yards?”

     What is plioanglos training? Plioanglos joint action means that the joint angles across which contracting muscles operate increase.   For pitching, the back of the shoulder and arm muscles backwardly decelerate throwing arms.   Therefore, while, after pitch releases, pitching arms continue ballistically speeding toward home plates, the back of the shoulder and arm muscles contract to decelerate pitching arms to stops.   These muscles lengthen while they contract.   Plioanglos training means adding resistance to forward ballistically speeding pitching arms to increase capacities of lengthening deceleration muscles to stop.

         h.   Differential Neuromuscular Tension Control (NTC) Principle

     Differential neuromuscular tension control means differentiating between muscles required and not required for skilled perfomances.   Skilled athletes appropriately contract required muscles and completely eliminate residual tensions from not-required muscles.   Skilled NTC performers appear to not try hard.   Skilled NTC performers do not show not-required facial muscle tensions.   Skilled NTC performers conserve energy.

     Skilled athletes typically learn differential neuromuscular tension control through trial and error.   Imagine basketball players shooting game-determining foul shots.   Skilled NTC basketball players shoot game-determining foul shots with practice ease.   Imagine pitchers pitching game-determining pitches.   For example, imagine game tied, extra innings, two outs, bases loaded and 3-2 counts on the road.   Skilled NTC pitchers throw airfoil screwballs, low and away, on the black, to earn called strike three.

     In 1929, Edmund Jacobson published Progressive Relaxation, a physiological and clinical investigation of muscular states and their significance in psycholocy and medical practice.   In 1934, Edmund Jacobson published You Must Relax, in which he suggested how interested persons could practice controlling unwanted muscle tensions.   In 1936, Edmund Jacobson wrote “The Course of Relaxation in Muscles of Athletes,” which the American Journal of Psychology printed in volume 48, pages 98-108 of it’s January periodical.

     In 1966, I completed Arthur H. Steinhaus’ Neuromuscular Relaxation course in which I learned tension signal recognition.   Arthur H. Steinhaus studied under Edmund Jacobson at the University of Chicago.   Skeletal muscles return tension signals to Somato-Sensory Cortexes.   With well-designed tension signal recognition sessions, athletes develop proprioceptive abilities.   In 1974, the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the Office of Education, Washington, D.C.   20202 published “Teaching Neuromuscular Relaxation,” written by Arthur H. Steinhaus and Jeanne E. Norris.   In Appendix 1, they included, “Neuromuscular Relaxation:   A Course of Fifteen Lessons.” Differential neuromuscular tension control is a learned skill, learn it!

Free Coaching Baseball Pitchers Book!!!                          Chapter Thirty-Three