If there is one sport that totally encapsulates the “dad bod” phenomenon, it is baseball. It’s just one of those activities that doesn’t take tremendous fitness prowess to be great at. In fact, while it might seem like baseball players look fit (uniforms hide a lot), for the most part they are just skilled at specific activities.
Baseball is an equal mix fine motor skill, years of accumulated development and learning, and decent athleticism. The leanest, strongest, buffest, and most athletic looking guys are not generally the best baseball players. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, I would estimate that an average body fat percentage for a typical professional baseball team is somewhere in the 15-17% range. That’s your average Joe walking the street.
If you haven’t come to hear of “dad bod” phenomenon, some brilliantly average college girl wrote about the advantages of dating this type of guy. First, to give credit where credit is due, she defined this type of guy perfectly. Her definition is as follows…
The dad bod is defined as the type of physique that shows…“I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.”
She hit the nail on the head with that one. I’ll give her that. We’ve been trying to find the perfect definition here in modern society for a while now.
The article goes further into defending this type of soft-bodied male, sparking several shake my head in disappointment comments that I will let you read here. –>http://theodysseyonline.com/clemson/dad-bod/97484 If you’re a guy, and you want to be successful with the opposite sex, you’ll be fine if you do exactly the opposite of what she claims is attractive. Trust me.
Back to baseball…
Our lifestyle as baseball players is extremely conducive to becoming soft bodied. It’s happened to me, and I’m not here to hate, just point out facts. Some of the best baseball players who ever lived look like they never touched a weight or consumed a vegetable. Some don’t appear healthy in the slightest, but they manage to stay on the field and crush it.
The vast majority, however, epitomize the dad bod because of a few big external factors. They are..
1.) Pathetic Eating and Food Choices – If someone doesn’t have to do something to survive, it is unlikely that one will consistently do that certain thing. What do I mean? It isn’t completely necessary to becoming a great baseball player, and survive and thrive as a professional to eat superbly healthy all the time, so most just don’t do it. They do whats convenient and affordable. Do I think eating optimally would improve a player’s health and wellness? Absolutely. Do I think it will help a player throw more strikes or hit for a higher average? Not so much. In my experience, the players who are the least neurotic about working out and eating tend to do the best. It’s probably because their mind is more free of clutter and worry than those of us who sweat even the smallest of details.
Anyways, baseball players, especially minor leaguers, are put in positions all day every day to make less than desirable nutrition choices at each meal. Fast food is often your only option, and uber processed turkey after batting practice every day just can’t be good for that half fat, half abs midsection on a typical ball player. Even more, being ravenous after a game at 11pm with 20 boxes of pizza waiting for the team will crush even the most disciplined athlete. Believe me.
2.) Piss Poor Sleep Schedule and Oversleeping – If it’s you’re job to be at your best physically and mentally between the hours of 7:00-10:00 P.M. then you can imagine a professional baseball player won’t have your “typical” and normal circadian rhythm patterns. Combine this with trying to force sleep on busses, planes, and hotels at atypical hours, and you have a recipe for compensation with too much afternoon sleep and caffeine from absurd amounts of energy drinks and coffee. My off-seasons were as if I was a totally different person with totally different demands and surroundings. I trained hard, ate well, and slept normally, then once the season started it was like everything in the baseball world’s power pulls you away from doing those three things.
3.) Lack of Quality Movement – I admire and love to death the strength and conditioning coaches, trainers, and physical therapists in professional baseball. They accept jobs to work long hours helping kids who are prized investments of very large companies. They accept this job with the understanding that they will be paid like shit for an opportunity to work with some of the world’s most skilled athletes. Baseball, unfortunately, is still a sport spinning its rear wheels in the old school ways of approaching health and fitness. Young players are still getting hurt at a high percentage, and millions are still being wasted on guys chilling in the locker room slouched over chic-fila breakfast biscuits wiping crumbs off their crappy moving and looking body. Some of my best friends have been made in the weight room and at the training table, and many are on the other end, fighting the good fight against baseball “norms” that promote stagnation and deterioration of athleticism. Things like standing around, sitting around, laying around, and riding around for hours and hours, then being expected to go perform tasks on the baseball field that simply wreck a healthy body is too overwhelming of a task for even the best trainers and strength coaches.
4.) Alcohol – One of the greatest things in the world is having a beer at the bar with teammates after a hard-earned victory. Nothing brings a team closer than the camaraderie of post game shenanigans. Checking out girls, slugging down a few cold ones, raising hell, it’s the best, it really is. There’s a saying that is so true about baseball players…”All we do when we are playing is talk about last night out after the game. All we do when we are out is talk about that day at the field.” The friendships created and the “fraternity” type environment cultivated on successful teams almost always involves alcohol on some level. I’d argue that without the bond of going out with the boys and reminiscing over the day’s baseball activities that a team would fail, every time. Is it good for the body? Not a chance. Is it good for recovery? Hell to the no. Is it good for winning as a team? I’d argue, yes. The body suffers from alcohol. We know this. Hormones get bent over and screwed. Fat loss get halted and diverted in it’s tracks. Recovery becomes delayed like a flight out of Boston in January. Crushing beers after a game, and on a belly full of post game mystery meat and pasta is a recipe for an optimal, glowing “dad bod.”
5.) Lack of Optimal In-Season and Even Off-Season Programming – A decent amount great players work their fucking tail off in the offseason. They heal from the previous season’s wear and tear, and train at a high level during the winter months. The best players seek out great coaches like Eric Cressey to program for them outside of what an organization will hand out to every player at the end of the season. It’s all about the edge, and resources delivered to strength coaches within organizations simply aren’t enough for minor leaguers looking to get to the big leagues. You would think otherwise, but if it weren’t for guys like Cressey, most players would fail to take advantage of offseason opportunities for improvement. In season workout programs are a totally different animal. I was fortunate enough throughout my career to receive programs from the most sought after baseball strength coach in the world. I would visit the northeast every winter to make the most out of my off-seasons. Eric Cressey would also program for me despite my in-season hectic, weak, injury provoking, dad bod conducive situation that is the minor leagues. Teams do a really awful job of monitoring their investments in the offseason. That must be noted. When the season comes, strength coaches and trainers have no clue about what a player did for the previous 5-6 months. They just “expect” that the kid is in shape and didn’t fuck around for 5 months like most 20 somethings do. When spring training begins, even the best strength coaches and trainers are caught in a shit storm of rigid scheduling and agenda. Players sneak by with little to no real work on their bodies or health. They get on the field and they get off, and I feel that almost everyone who doesn’t take it upon themselves to go against the grain, loses a step in their true potential.
My colleague, trusted friend, and fellow Showmestrength.com writer/consultant, Andrew Ferreira will be back soon with a follow up to this article via an action plan..Stay tuned.