Hey guys, been away from the log for a while, and I think it's time for an update.
I've accomplished a ton in the past month or so, starting with the end of my fat loss "project" I reached an acceptable 8% body fat just as practice started ramping up, which is easy to maintain and right where I want to be. Relaxed and relatively hydrated:
In the end, I actually ended up gaining strength in all of my upper body lifts. I didn't re-test my squat or deadlift. Although there is undoubtedly some strength loss in my lower half, it appears to be minimal and hasn't affected my performance thus far.
Starting weight was roughly 217-220lbs at 13-14% body fat, ending weight is about 205lbs at just under 8% body fat.
Started off doing 85lbs for 6 on dumbbell bench, and 16 neutral grip pull-ups. Finished doing 90lbs for 6 on DB bench, 25 reps on neutral grip chin-ups and 4 reps on weighted chins with 90lbs!!
It's pretty neat seeing your body change every few days and still managing to make gains in the weight room. I feel phenomenal and I can sustain this type of eating indefinitely which is pretty exciting.
As far as pitching goes, I've been aggressively getting my arm and mechanics back in game ready shape. Throwing has been roughly 6 days per week, with 3-4 bullpens per week leading up to when we started intersquadding. At this point, after 2 weeks of scrimmages, I'm doing 2 live outings per week, 1 regular bullpen and 1 short bullpen from 55 feet. The arm is getting close and the mechanics/ velocity are 99% there from what I can tell.
All of my outings have been in 30 degree weather, but I think I should be throwing around 90+ once the weather warms up again.
My first couple live outings were rusty, but I'm starting to regain my form out there. In 6 innings so far, I have given up 1 earned run with 5ks, 3bbs, 2h and 1hbp. Not great.
Then again, my last outing was the first time I really felt like I regained my summer form on the mound. I threw 10 out of 12 pitches for strikes, and all of my pitches were working.
Bigger than those numbers though, was the fact that my mentality was back where it needs to be. Sure, I made a slight mechanical tweak reminding myself to really force the front shoulder closed while letting the hips glide open. More important, I was able to go into attack mode from the first pitch and stay there for the entire inning with every pitch.
The main things I did to change this:
1) Put headphones in while warming up before my outing - this is something I did over the summer and it paid off big time. Keep the music relatively relaxed and it will do wonders for regulating your heart rate and keeping you focused and in the zone. As a reliever, this is even more important, because nerves are very common before entering the game at a crucial point.
2) Take caffeine or some sort of stimulant if you are not 100% awake and mentally alert.
On a recommendation from a teammate, I took a 5 hour energy prior to my outing. I've had them before, but there really was a noticeable difference in how well I was able to focus and stay alert. In addition, I took L-Tyrosine, which was part of my fat loss supplement stack and helps clear mental fog and improve alertness.
3) Remembered to take a deep breath before EVERY throw during my catch play and zero in on my target. This helps relaxation and focus.
4) When coming in from long toss, work on change-ups from 90 feet to a down partner. This was actually a drill just to work on change-ups, but I always noticed that when going through my full delivery from 90 feet away, you have no choice but to focus on your target much much more. Every time when I moved back into 60 feet, on top of having the benefit of improved feel for my change up, I noticed that the catcher looked UNFAIRLY CLOSE. 60 feet literally feels like 45 feet every time that I go through this routine before a flat ground.
5) In the bullpen, being aggressive from the first pitch. The arm is already warmed up to throw hard at this point, so keeping that intensity and aggressiveness helps negate any nerves or babying of the ball. Continue taking a deep breath before every pitch.
6) Pop the headphones in while waiting to go into the game, calm the mind a bit, and when called, walk to the mound with a swagger like you know you are going to dominate. The key here is channeling a focused-intensity. It's very easy to be too amped up or too calm, but when you find that balance is when the magic happens. Treat the inning like a battle - you are a one-pitch-warrior. Maintain this for the entire inning and you will get everything out of your body that you have on a given day.
@BR: I have the main set-up role to start. I'll keep you all updated on how that changes as the season progresses. LSU in 2 days! Get pumped!