3 Experts Share the Best Weight Training Methods for Baseball Players

It’s that time of year again when the sound of leather hitting wood and leather on leather while playing catch rings out. Spring training for baseball players is just around the corner and after all these years it’s still one of America’s greatest pastimes.

Professional baseball, in its current form, has been around for 123 years. Times that by 162 games plus post-season, and that’s a lot of games. There’s much history, nostalgia, and tradition behind the game of baseball, which are a couple of reasons why it is still prevalent in the age of social media and the smartphone.

Major League Baseball plays its regular season games in 180 days. And don’t forget the travel required between games. That’s a lot of games and travel and not much recovery time. Although baseball doesn’t require as much athleticism (but still a lot) as other professional sports, but baseball players still need to be in excellent physical condition for a grueling, grinding season.

Both factors make strength training as crucial as ever, from the professional player down to the ones swinging a bat in the rec leagues.

Here, three strength coaches, Robbie Bagby, MS, CSCS, Pn1, Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, owner of Core Collective in Brookline, MA, and Taylor Lewis, Ph.D., ACSM-CEP, CSCS who have all trained their fair share of big-time ball players, share why strength training matters for baseball players.

The Physical Demands of Baseball

Baseball is a repetitive unilateral game requiring bursts of action followed by a short to prolonged rest. According to Bagby, players must have power in multiple directions: rotational for throwing and swinging, linear for sprinting/jumping, and lateral for side-to-side movements.

“Depending on the position, some players will see more action than others. Pitchers and catchers are involved in every play and perform many repetitive movements. Outfielders may not be affected as much but are expected to be able to sprint into action when necessary. explains Bagby.

Gentilcore further elaborates on the physical demands of throwing a baseball really hard.

“Throwing a baseball is one of the more “violent” actions placed on the body. Every pitch, for example, places upward of 7200+ degrees of internal rotation force on the shoulder. This means that if the rotator cuff muscles weren’t there to do their jobs, the glenohumeral joint would complete 20 full revolutions.

Additionally, when a pitcher is in the full layback position during a pitch (visualize the lower arm being horizontal to the ground as they’re about to release the ball), the amount of force on the elbow at that particular moment is the same as hanging a 30-pound dumbbell from a string from the hand.” explains Gentilcore.

Benefits of Strength Training in Baseball

Gentilcore grew up and played in an era without emphasizing strength training.

“I grew up in an era when the traditional thought was that baseball players should avoid the weight room for fear of getting too bulky. Even more asinine was that pitchers were encouraged to run poles (back and forth, back and forth) in the outfield. Better time would have been spent building a rock garden.”

Now, times have changed. Strength training is crucial in helping baseball players be more explosive and helps address compensations for excelling in a particular set of movements to reduce injury risk.

Gentilcore, Lewis, and Bagby all agree that throwing baseballs hard and hitting them far (not to mention sprinting) requires ramping up, transferring, and exhibiting force quickly within the body. Bigger and stronger athletes tend to do all of those better.

Moreover, the baseball season (especially in the pro ranks) is gruelingly long, where players play over 140-160 games in a season. There’s a lot of wear and tear placed on the body. Athletes who put in their time and build a solid base of strength tend not to break down as quickly or as soon as Lewis explains.

“The fatigue throughout a game has been shown to decrease proper baseball mechanics, reducing power output and increasing risk of injury . The repetitive synchronization of the kinetic chain requires optimal strength and endurance to produce high-level forces continually throughout the season,” says Lewis.

Strength Exercises Baseball Players Should Avoid

As great as strength training is for baseball players, not all strength exercises are great. The game requires a lot of rotation and movement from the joints, and any exercise that doesn’t allow the joint to move freely is out, according to Bagby.

I like to avoid barbell pressing or pushing movements as the barbell will lock the hands and shoulders in ONE position. But in baseball, the joints need to move in multiple directions, which will put less stress on the shoulder. Any exercise that doesn’t allow the hands the ability to rotate is out.” explains Bagby.

Tony Gentilcore has a slightly different view with a twist.

“I don’t feel there are any contraindicated exercises for baseball players. Deadlifts, squats, bench presses, overhead presses, single leg work, you name it… Regardless of sport, athletes should use the weight room to develop/compliment their skills and work on any glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Baseball players should avoid those kooky-looking exercises used to emulate the swing or pitch in the weight room. The weight room should be utilized to enhance the body’s ability to develop and transfer force (not coincidentally, larger muscles have more potential to do this…hint, hint, hint), not to copy the actions of the sport itself.” says Gentilcore.

What Baseball Players Need

“Baseball players need to build muscular strength and tune the muscular system to communicate with the forces and demands that baseball places on the player.  To optimize baseball mechanics and improve performance, athletes should focus on exercises that strengthen the internal and external obliques, the transverse abdominis, the spinal erectors, the quadratus lumborum, the latissimus dorsi, and the rhomboids.

These primary muscles enhance the proximal stiffness around the spine to endure loads and create force production. The curl-up, side plank, bird dog, and suitcase carry help build core strength and maximize force potential. In addition, performing hip extension variations and hip abduction-based exercises such as clamshells tunes the hips and torso to generate and distribute force to the arms and legs appropriately.” explains Lewis.

Using that logic, here’s an upper body-focused workout to enhance your power and production on the baseball field.

Upper Body Focus Strength Workout For Baseball Players

After a warm-up, perform each superset three times, resting one to two minutes after each.

1A. Yoga pushups 12-15 reps

1B. Side Plank with Clamshell 8- 12 reps per side

2A.  Split stance one arm cable row 16 reps per side

2B.  Bench T Spine Mobility  8 reps

3A.  Ab Rollout 6-8 reps

3B.  Suitcase carry 40 yards per side.

Source link

Comments are closed.