SPECIFICITY OF THE STRENGTH TRAINING RESPONSE
McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2004). Exercise physiology (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
"An isometrically trained muscle shows greatest strength improvement when measured isometrically, whereas a dynamically trained muscle tests best when evaluated in resistance activities requiring the movement. Furthermore, isometric strength developed at or near one joint angle does not readily transfer to other angles or body positions that demand use of the same muscles. . . In dynamic exercise, muscle trained through movement over a limited ROM [Range of Movement] show the greatest strength improvement when measured in that ROM. . . Even a body-position specificity exists; muscular strength of ankle plantar and dorsiflexors developed in the standing position with concentric and eccentric muscle actions showed no transfer when evaluating the same muscles' strength in the supine position. . . Resistance training specificity makes sense because strength improvement blends adaptations in two factors: (1) the muscle fiber itself and (2) the neural organization and excitability of motor units that power discrete patterns of voluntary movement. . .
Likewise, a muscle's maximal force output depends on neural factors that effectively recruit and synchronize firing of motor units, not just local factors such as muscle fiber type and cross-section area. . . [Research] findings provide strong evidence that resistance training per se does not induce all-inclusive (general) adaptations in muscle structure and function. Rather, a muscle's contractile properties (maximal force, velocity of shortening, rate of tension development) improve in a manner highly specific in the muscle action used in training. . . strengthening muscles for a specific athletic or occupational activity . . . demands more than just identifying and overloading the muscles used in the movement. It requires training specifically in the important movements that necessitate improved strength" (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, pp. 520-521).
Of particular relevance to specific training for baseball pitching, is the final conclusion of McArdle, Katch, and Katch (2004):
"To improve a specific physical performance through resistance training, one must train the muscle(s) in movements that mimic the movement requiring force-capacity improvement, with specific consideration for force, velocity, and power requirements" (p. 521).
Implication. The direct application of this recommendation is that hard-throwing is the only stimulus for improving muscular function in baseball pitching. Training on resistance machines, or doing different forms of throwing as training and practice items will be irrelevant activities for improving pitching. Irrelevant training should not be expected to produce pitching improvements.
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