If you are training to be a better baseball player you can’t just walk into the gym and wing it.
You need to have a plan.
Better yet, you need to have a baseball-specific plan.
That’s because your strength training for baseball should do more than just give you bigger, stronger muscles.
It should also focus on evening out the muscle imbalances that are caused with doing the same movements (throwing and batting) thousands of times each season. Your strength training should help loosen up tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles so that your technique is maximized.
As a Sports Performance Specialist, I have had great results building better baseball players by adhering to these following principles when strength training:
- Get the Posterior Chain Strong The posterior chain is a group of muscles on the back of your body that are comprised of the mid back, low back, glutes, hips and hamstrings. This group of muscles work together to give you power when batting and throwing. The general rule when setting up workouts for baseball players is to include a lower body compound exercise such as a Trap Bar Deadlift or a Safety Bar Squat (The Safety Bar is awesome for baseball players because it doesn’t put stress on the shoulders), a 1-leg exercise that focuses on the quadriceps, a hip dominant exercise and a rotational core exercise.
- Use a Foam Roller This is my secret weapon for getting baseball players loose and ready to play. It also helps your overall strength gains throughout the year because when you get more blood flow to your muscles you recover better from strength training. In turn, you develop more absolute strength. Baseball players should foam roll the Piriformis (glute area muscle that helps you step into a pitch) and your Ilio-Tibial (IT) Band. Basically, it means you need to foam roll the hips, glute and outside of the thigh. Baseball players should also foam roll the Thoracic area of the back as well as the posterior deltoids (back of shoulders).
- Train the Brachialis Muscle Baseball players are notorious for developing elbow injuries. This is especially true for pitchers who repeatedly throw high velocity pitches and breaking pitches, which cause torque on the elbows. This is why so many baseball pitchers wind up having a Tommy John surgery, which replaces the medial ligament in the elbow with a tendon from somewhere else in the body. The good news is you can avoid elbow throwing injuries by getting the Brachialis (forearm muscle) strong. The best way to do this is with some sort of Hammer Curl. A Hammer Curl is any type of unilateral curl that allows you to keep your thumb up as you curl the weight.
- The Medicine Ball is Your Friend I always have my baseball players perform medicine ball exercises during the preseason so that they can increase explosive power for throwing, running and batting. To do this, I have them perform various lying, kneeling and standing exercises with a medicine ball. Two of the best exercises for baseball players are Soccer Throws and Sideways Wall Throws. These two exercises give a fantastic explosive core workout and train the Internal Obliques muscle group that is so important to overall power as an athlete. BUT… the preseason is best done for only 6-8 weeks prior to the start of the season. In other words, Medicine Ball and other power training exercises are best done for short periods of time… not year round. The bulk of the time should focus on building a foundation of strength from which you build speed and power around.
- Train Over Your Head One of the silliest things we’ve dealt with when training new baseball athletes at our gym is their coaches instructions that they are NOT to do any exercises that involve their arms overhead. They mistakenly believe that the players will get hurt by training any exercises over their heads. Listen, here’s the truth… The only exercises that you may want to avoid overhead are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. These Olympic style lifts can lead to torque and injuries in the shoulders… especially when attempted by individuals who aren’t properly trained nor experienced enough. Personally, I think Olympic lifts are useless for baseball players and won’t use them with my players. Instead, exercises such as strict standing shoulder presses, overhead triceps extensions, and a Pullover machine are amazingly effective for creating a balanced group of muscles for throwing and batting.
There are a ton more things you can to maximize your baseball performance through your baseball-specific workouts. Give these 5 tips a consideration when designing your baseball-specific workouts so that you avoid injuries as well as improve your game.