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The baseball season is long and grueling. Practices and games nearly every day can gradually break down the body. If you continue your intense off-season training schedule, such a breakdown is almost guaranteed.
Baseball players need to transition to an in-season workout plan designed to coincide with their regular practices and games. The goal of an in-season workout is not to add size or strength, but to keep you healthy and avoid losing the strength and power you gained in the off-season.
Check out the three most common in-season baseball training mistakes, then follow these eight guidelines when planning your in-season baseball workouts.
1. Perform Two Workouts Per Week
Working out twice a week is ideal for recovery, maintaining strength and power, and preventing fatigue from negatively affecting on-field performance.
2. Stick to Short Workouts
A 30-minute workout is more than enough to get in and out of the gym and keep up your strength levels. Your focus should be on practicing and playing games to hone your skills, so your training shouldn’t be a big time commitment. If you feel the need for a longer session, don’t exceed 45 minutes.
3. Perform Full-Body Workouts
Since you are training only twice a week, stick to full-body workouts, engaging both your upper and lower body at the same time instead of dedicating one day to each area. The full-body approach will also be better for your recovery—because you aren't focusing solely on one area of the body, you won't get as sore.
4. Avoid Eccentric Exercises
Eccentric exercises involve lengthening the muscles under tension, like the downward phase of a Squat or Bicep Curl. The problem is that these exercises cause more muscle soreness—not ideal for in-season athletes. Exercises that lack an eccentric phase do not cause soreness. Stick to movements that don't have a lowering phase, such as Farmer’s Walks and Sled Drags.
5. Perform Familiar Exercises
The in-season phase is not the time to introduce variety. By sticking to exercises you already know, you will limit soreness, as your body will already know the movements.
6. Listen to Your Body
Your number one goal as an in-season athlete is to stay healthy. You're no good to yourself or your team if you get hurt. During the course of the baseball season, you're bound to get beat up from time to time. Make sure to listen to your body and plan accordingly. Take a day off from the weight room if necessary.
7. Perform Soft Tissue, Mobility and Flexibility Work
Baseball players are prone to muscular imbalances caused by the uneven nature of the sport—e.g., throwing and batting from the same side. To avoid muscular imbalances and promote healing, perform soft tissue, mobility and flexibility work during the season: foam rolling, dynamic stretching and static stretching. Besides doing this work before and after training, I advocate doing it between sets as a form of active recovery.
8. Use Submaximal Weights
Submaximal training is the key to staying healthy during the baseball season. In a nutshell, you should always leave two or three reps in the tank during each set. This will ensure that you are not training to failure, which should be avoided at all costs during the season.
Luckily for you, I have created a 12-week in-season baseball training program that takes all the guesswork out. Check out the In-Season Baseball Training Program.