A baseball training program should incorporate a strength training component. Strength is crucial for baseball success. The two primary reasons for this are to develop explosive power and to protect against injury (especially arm injuries).
Many players neglect to develop explosive power. The reasons for this are varied. Some don’t know how. Some have tried lifting weights, and become injured (doing the wrong kind of baseball weight training). Some don’t think it’s important (guess again!).
In baseball training, little things add up to make a huge difference. If you add even a small increase in your power, your game will improve in all areas.
Here are some general guidelines for baseball training:
- Use a variety of weight training methods such as free weights, body weight, medicine ball, kettlebells and surgical tubing exercises.
- Avoid pressing movements with heavy weights (risky for the shoulder).
- Train your lower body with heavier weights.
- Train your upper body with lighter weights.
- Never forget to train the core of the body (hips, buttocks, lower back).
- You must take special care to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles using light (3-5 lb) weights.
Your aim with baseball training is to build functional strength. Baseball is a sport that requires you to stop, start, and explode. It’s a sport dependent on explosive bursts of power, and reactions. You must train your body to be strong
at a variety of angles and planes. Every player bends, twists, and throws.
Medicine balls are an excellent baseball training tool. A solid medicine ball routine builds explosive power, and teaches your muscles to work together as one tightly knit unit. I’d start with an 8 or 9 pounder. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Find a place where you have a solid wall and about 10 feet of ceiling height. Hold the medicine ball in both hands at chest height like a basketball player about to make a chest pass. At the same time, squat down and leap off the ground. Jump up in the air and push the ball up as high as you can against the wall. Quickly retrieve the ball and continue the drill for 30 seconds. See how many you can complete.
- Grab the medicine ball with your hands underneath. Squat down so that your thighs come parallel with the ground (the ball is held with your arms dangling in front of your body. When you squat down, they almost touch the ground). Leap up off the ground, and at the same time, thrust the ball up in the air (watch that you don’t get hit by the ball as it comes down!). Do as many as you can in 30 seconds.
Both of these above drills will build incredible strength and power. They are excellent for baseball training.
Find out more about medicine balls and routines at: Medicine Balls
Weight lifting routines for baseball can be tricky. Many baseball players make the mistake of trying to lift too much weight with various overhead lifts. This can lead to a potential injury to the rotator cuff (the muscles in the shoulder that basically keep your arm in the shoulder socket – pretty darn important for a baseball player).
Let’s get something really clear right now. If you can’t throw a baseball (or you can’t throw it very well), then you’re not much use to your team. I don’t know of many designated hitters being recruited by colleges or signed to Major League contracts.
So, baseball weight training should avoid any overhead lifts with heavy weights.
What do I recommend for baseball training? Let’s start with lower body.
Exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and leg press for lower body. Heavier weights are okay here, but get a spotter! Learn to do the lifts correctly! And, there are some other exercises you can do that will really make a difference…
…try doing body weight lunges (at different angles), and single leg squats (these are very difficult). These two lower body exercises build excellent strength and flexibility in the core area. And, that’s crucial for baseball training.
There’s an excellent baseball training web site that provides detailed training programs for baseball players (and other athletes). You owe it to yourself to take a look at this. There’s no doubt you’ll find information that will take your game to a much higher level. It’s the best info out there:
Baseball Training Programs
Take care of your arm!
Your baseball career depends on your arm. Don’t neglect your rotator cuff exercises. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles. They respond very well to very light weights (3-5 lbs), and higher reps, say 15-20.
Surgical tubing is one of the best ways to build up your rotator cuff. You should do exercises several times a week. There are dozens of good rotator exercises. Check your favorite search engine for “rotator cuff exercises” and you’ll find one you’ll like.
Your baseball training *must* include the rotator cuff.
Oh, one more thing. Always stretch out your arm (rotators) before you start throwing (and afterwards). And, if you’re a pitcher, I recommend you get out the surgical tubing and get a little work in with it too before you throw. Give yourself every edge and advantage with your baseball training.
Okay. How about your upper body? No baseball conditioning program would be complete without good old-fashioned push-ups. Hey, I know they’re not high-tech, but they are excellent for baseball. Why you ask…?
…because they strengthen the rotator cuff, and the rest of your shoulder (arm strength), as well as your chest, and arm muscles. They give you an awesome return on your “sweat equity.” Try a wide variety…and see if you can work up to a one-armed pushup. When you can crank off 10 or so one-armed push-ups, then you’re getting pretty strong.
Push-ups are better than bench presses. But if you must bench press, only use dumbbells. And, avoid heavy weights. Again, the risk of injury to the shoulder is ever-present, especially with a barbell. So, if you’re going to bench press, use dumbbells with a spotter.
Next, you need to do some chin-ups. Do them both with palms facing forward and towards you. These are difficult (most people can only do 3 or 4), but again, you get a lot of bang for the buck with this body weight exercise.
Don’t underestimate the value of body weight exercises like lunges, push-ups and chin-ups. Try them. You’ll be amazed at what a regular, simple routine can do for you. And, the risk of injury is minimal.
An alternative to chin-ups are rows. I’d look for a machine that allows you to do them sitting down. Don’t do lat pull-downs in front of your head (again, to avoid injury to your shoulders).
Kettlebells can be an excellent baseball training device. In particular, for the lower body. Kettlebell swings build explosive power in the hips, buttocks, and legs (not to mention stamina). Those muscles generate the explosive power and speed you’re after. I’d avoid the overhead snatches, and clean and jerks, but the lower body lifts and other core area exercises would be fantastic. Kettlebells are small and portable. You can take them anywhere. You can get a fantastic workout in just 10 minutes. What’s that? You’ve never heard of kettlebells? No problem! Elite combat troops have known about them for a while…and many athletes are using them to gain an edge on the competition.