Mastering the Perfect Baseball Off-Season, Part 1: The Program

October 22, 2012 | Josh Heenan

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Sacred Heart University's off-season baseball program has yielded tremendous results, dramatically improving team performance on the field. Our methods are based on individualization for each athlete to optimize injury prevention, force production, nutrition and psychology. (Check out STACK's Library of Sport Psychology Tips for Athletes.)

The main goal for each player is to be able to play each time he is called upon. Baseball players are incredibly imbalanced athletes, and they are usually banged up. (Learn how to Eliminate Muscle Imbalances.) Aggressively correcting these imbalances during the off-season is the foundation for durability. Once imbalances have been corrected, we strength-train to protect against injury.

Enhancing force production is highly dependent on the athlete's absolute and relative strength. The great majority of our athletes lack muscle mass and overall strength, so that will be the focus for this series. We need to give them more horsepower in their engine so they can apply more force into the ground, which will allow them to run faster, throw harder and hit with more power.

Nutrition and psychology are also part of the program. Nutritional changes will not stick without proper psychological training. At SHU, we look to maximize our psychology in daily life and in the gym to have direct transfer to the field. This includes creating a culture within our baseball team to expect the best of ourselves and our teammates.

The Off-Season Baseball Program

Our first step in correcting imbalances is to assess each player, including orthopedic, movement and postural screens. Sports coaches show me video of players who have suffered injuries or have been classified as high risk because of their throwing or hitting style.

For the sake of simplicity, I have included just the main portion of our six-week intensive baseball workout program. Our warm-ups are done as a team, and adjustments are made on the fly for athletes with different needs.

  • Roll with PVC pipe: IT bands, quads, upper back
  • Roll with lacrosse ball: infraspinatus, glutes, calf muscles
  • Active or ground-based warm-up (similar to the Warm-Up Performed by Georgia Baseball)

Monday

A1) Front Box Squat (light touch, below parallel)

  • Week 1: 4x6 @ 80% 1RM
  • Week 2: 4x6 @ 85% 1RM
  • Week 3: no box, full depth, find 1RM
  • Week 4: no box, work up to 1RM, then 3x6 @ 80%
  • Week 5: no box, post-activation potential: 15-second hold @ 120%, 10x1 @ 90%
  • Week 6: Reverse Barbell Lunges: 3x10
  • Week 7: front Squat max test

A2) Ankle Mobility - 3x10

B1) Single-Leg DB Deadlift - 3x10 each leg

B2) Inverted Rows - 3xmax

B3) Push-Ups (with push-up bars or dumbbells)

  • Week 1: 3x8 (5-second hold at top, 5-second hold at bottom)
  • Week 2: 3x12 (5-second hold at top, 5-second hold at bottom)
  • Week 3: 3xmax
  • Week 4: 3x8 (10-second hold at top, 10-second hold at bottom)
  • Week 5: 3x12 (10-second hold at top, 10 second hold at bottom)
  • Week 6: 3xmax

C1) Eccentric Glute-Ham Raise 

  • Week 1: 3x6
  • Week 2: 3x8
  • Week 3: 3x10
  • Week 4: 3x10
  • Week 5: 3x12
  • Week 6: 3x12

C2) Incline Bench Ys - 3x10

C3) Incline Bench Ts- 3x10

Wednesday

A) Sled Push - 10x1 (max weight for 6-8 seconds, 1-2 minutes rest between sets)

B1) Box Jumps or Depth Jumps

  • Weeks 1-3: Box Jumps - 3x3
  • Weeks 4-6: Depth Jumps - 3x3

B2) Rack Pull/Deadlift

  • Week 1: Rack Pull (work up to 5RM, just below knees)
  • Week 2: Rack Pull (work up to 5RM, just below knees)
  • Week 3: Rack Pull (work up to 3RM, just below knees)
  • Week 4: Conventional Deadlift (work up to 5RM)
  • Week 5: Conventional Deadlift (work up to 5RM)
  • Week 6: Conventional Deadlift (work up to 3RM)

B3) Hip Flexor Mobilization - 3x10 each side

C1) Chin-Ups

  • Weeks 1-3: 3xmax (eccentric)
  • Week 4: 3xmax
  • Week 5: 4xmax
  • Week 6: 5xmax

C2)  Single-Leg Squat to Box - 3x10 each side

Friday

Strongman Conditioning

  • 10 to 14 stations: Med Ball Throws, Farmer's Carries, Sled Pushes, Plyos, Bear Crawls and Mobilization/Stretches thrown in the mix
  • 2 to 4 rounds
  • 30 to 60 seconds at a station with 10- to 60-second rest between stations and 3- to 10-minute breaks between rounds

Stick around for Part 2 of this series, which will present our nutritional plan and the psychological experiment that caused one athlete to gain 15 pounds of lean mass while losing fat.

Josh Heenan
- Josh Heenan a Doctor of Integrated Medicine and a Strength and Conditioning Coach to hundreds of athletes, primarily baseball players. For five seasons, he served...
Josh Heenan
- Josh Heenan a Doctor of Integrated Medicine and a Strength and Conditioning Coach to hundreds of athletes, primarily baseball players. For five seasons, he served...
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