Q&A with Noah Syndergaard
“Thor” talks off-season fitness, gluten-free eats, and finding a Pilates reformer that fits him.
Opening day is still months away (April 2) but that doesn’t mean your favorite players aren’t already in full swing. Take Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard for example. “Thor,” as he’s known, is one of the pre-season favorites for the Cy Young award (given to the best pitcher in the league). Syndergaard, who is also a pretty stellar hitter, spends four days a week in the gym in addition to his other training. He works in yoga, Pilates, and has his recovery and nutrition dialed in. Somehow he manages to find time to feud with @MrMet via Twitter (follow him @NoahSyndergaard) and entertain his 404,000 followers. We sat down with him to talk mental and physical fitness, comedic inspiration, and more.
What does your fitness routine look like in the off-season?
Right now I'm training five days a week. Weight training is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. On Wednesday [when I’m not in the weight room], stretching and some activation stuff takes place. I do some yoga as well, maybe get a massage.
Mondays and Thursdays are primarily upper body. For baseball players it's pretty smart for us to be doing different variations of the dumbbell bench press. It's a little different than a straight bar dumbbell bench because it adds that shoulder stability. We do a lot of heavy back stuff, a lot of pull-ups, a lot of rows. We also do breathing exercises, and correct our posture to help us utilize our bodies in the optimum way.
Tuesdays and Fridays are lower body days. Tuesdays we'll do a squat variation. We do a lot of sled pushes, sled drags… unique stuff like that I really enjoy doing. Fridays is all single-leg exercises, so we'll do rear foot elevated split squats.
You’re known for your fastball. What do you do off the mound to work on that speed?
We incorporate a lot of medicine ball work in our training regimens for rotational power. It's not only about being strong, you have to be explosive and be able to move some weight around very quickly because that's going to transfer energy and really allow you to deliver a quality pitch at the highest velocity possible. Other than that we'll do some plyometric stuff on the field. Every exercise we do, we try to move the weight as fast as possible.
What is your recovery like?
[Other than yoga and massage] I’ve been doing a lot of Pilates. Though, it's kind of hard to find a [reformer] machine that really fits me properly. I do cryotherapy every once in a while.
Does your diet change in the off-season?
I've been working with a nutritionist for about three years outside of the team nutritionist. She does a really good job of trying to teach me how to progress in my diet. For the most part, my diet doesn't really change from the off-season to in-season. It's really hard to maintain your weight and a good diet during the season because you're constantly at the fields, you have late nights, early mornings. So, most of the time I'll lose a little bit of weight during the season, but I'll try to eat as much as possible. But once off-season hits, there's a restaurant back home in Dallas right now that I'm really craving called Kozy Kitchen. It's got some of the best food I've had. Everything's gluten-free, not that I'm gluten intolerant, I just feel better eating that. And everything is grass-fed. My favorite meal there is called "The Lodge." It's three grass-fed beef fillets, sweet potato hash with bacon, three scrambled eggs, avocado, and salsa. It's fantastic.
You’re known for being a pretty funny guy on Twitter. Where do you get the comedic inspiration?
Well, right now I'm in a bit of a feud with Mr. Met (@MrMet). He and I have a serious problem. I got a fear of mascots and he just keeps on trying to expose me, and it's really causing a problem right now. Because you know they're so big and stealthy, they don't make any noise, and they can't talk. It's terrifying. But mostly I get a lot of inspiration from my big brain. I’m a big fan of comedy movies. Growing up I was always in a funny household. Both my parents are funny.
The Mets are loaded with star pitchers—is there camaraderie or any friendly competition amongst you guys?
Most definitely. We’re really a close-knit group. The Mets, we're all a team, but the pitching staff and starting pitchers in particular kind of feel like one big unit or a brotherhood. So we're always pushing each other to get better. The rest of the starting pitchers will go watch the starting pitcher for that day warm up on the mound. It's just kind of a way to show that we're here supporting you, and you know you're starting for that day, but we're behind you every step of the way.
What about mental fitness—how do you maintain the mindset and confidence you need to be successful?
We have two sports psychologists, Jonathan Fader and Will Lenzner. Will lent me a book this season. It was a pretty interesting book called The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford and I really took a lot out of it. One thing in particular was if things aren't really going for me that day, instead of showing emotion and anger, frustration, just be aware of those feelings to channel them and not use excess energy on those emotions. Instead just focus on doing your job for that day.