Gone are the days of big, soft baseball players watching daisies grow on the field or sitting on the bench waiting for a quick turn at bat. Modern pros are highly-trained and in peak condition.
Today’s big league players impress with the speed of the swing, agility on the bases, power on the mound and strength behind the plate. To get that fit, try adding these exercises to your workouts.
Sprint strength on the bases: If you want to get down to first on a dribbler, you need to be able to sprint. By adding a focus on this often-overlooked training area, the hip flexors, you’ll be building the strength you need to run short distances faster. In fact, it’s been said Usain Bolt has incredibly thick hip flexors unlike any you’ve ever seen.
- Cable hip flexion. Place the cable machine on the lowest notch. Wrap it around your left leg and stand on your right leg. Lift your knee up to your waist while bending your leg to a 90 degree angle at the knee. Lower your foot back down but don’t let it rest on the ground. Repeat up to 15 times and then switch legs.
Explosive power for the catcher: Plyometric movements are powerful, “push off” movements that require a swift burst of strength. Catchers need to do a lot of hard throwing, fast, as well as jumping up out of a squat and lunging to tag an on-coming runner.
- Upper & lower body plyometrics. Throw a medicine ball using a variety of positions and arm angles. Try overhead up against a wall, right side and left side at chest height, and quick throws down on to the floor in front of you. For your lower body, do jump training, which begins with crouching down and jumping up as high as you can, again and again. Use boxes or benches to create variations such as jumping side to side or performing half turns in the middle of your jump.
Rotation with the bat: Your core strength and stability comes into play during most sporting performances, but there’s an extra level of need when it comes to rotational movements such as swinging a baseball bat. Focus on the obliques at the cable machine.
- Standing Cable Twist and Push. Set up a cable with a rope attachment at elbow height. Position yourself in a batting stance with the cable to one side of your body and grab the cable attachment with both hands. Rotate your torso away from the cable machine and extend your elbows as you go through the motion of the baseball swing, then slowly return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each side.
Shoulder work for the throwing arm: Shoulders are already one of the weaker joints in the human body, and for a baseball player, the wear and tear on the throwing arm can be detrimental. To offset injuries from throwing, exercises for the rotator cuff are essential.
Unlike other strength exercises, exercises for the rotator cuff should be done with very light dumbbells—no more than five pounds. Heavier weights will only cause your deltoid muscles to fire, and that is not the aim of this work. Your goal is smooth, controlled movement.
- Lateral shoulder raises. Stand with your arms at your sides and a dumbbell in each hand. With elbows straight, raise arms to shoulder height parallel to the ground. Lower the arms slowly to the standing position with a three second count and repeat. Keep good posture with a big chest. Do not roll shoulders forward because it will cause improper shoulder alignment during the exercise.