The era of overweight ball players eating hot dogs and fried chicken between innings is dead. Although it's clear that long and successful playing careers are a product of outstanding physical preparation and skill practice, the world of baseball weight training still remains cloudy.
Should baseball players lift weights? How should they train? Which exercises are good and bad? If you're a beginner who is just starting to lift weights, you've probably already asked yourself these questions.
Look no further. The five key principles outlined in this article constitute a basic outline for baseball weight training, and they will help you put together a program that will make you a better ball player.
Baseball Weight Training Principles
Principle #1 - Forget About the Beach
If you've been pulling your workouts out of bodybuilding magazines, stop! These programs will increase muscles size, but most will not make you a better athlete. "Beach muscles" may look good, but they are only a part of your performance. There's nothing wrong with throwing in a "bro day" to get a pump here and there, but do it toward the end of the training week, and make sure it isn't having a negative impact on your training.
(Check out the top ten practical strength exercises for baseball players.)
Principle #2 - Build a Strong Lower Half
If you're the type of athlete who doesn't mind skipping out on leg training, that's fine. There are plenty of roster spots for weak and slow guys, right? If you don't want to fit that profile, then start building up those tree trunks. Stronger legs will have an immediate carryover to better running, jumping, throwing and hitting.
There are literally hundreds of leg exercises that can make you stronger, but start with the basics. Learn how to Squat and Deadlift. The key word in that sentence is learn. These aren't extremely complicated lifts to perform, but proper technique takes practice. Put your ego aside and keep the weight light until you know that your technique is up to par, then focus on getting stronger. When you're ready for more exercises, check out STACK's Lower-Body Exercise Guide.
Principle #3 - Bulletproof Your Back
Whether you're a pitcher or a position player, a strong back is crucial for protecting your arm during the baseball season. Think of your upper back muscles as the brakes and your throwing motion as the car. The better your brakes work, the faster the car can go (i.e., faster arm action equals greater throwing velocity). If the brakes don't work, the car is going to crash (i.e., you could suffer a shoulder or elbow injury). Incorporate exercises like Chin-Ups, Dumbbell Rows, and Inverted Rows to build a strong back.
(Learn how to perform the most effective back exercises.)
Principle #4 - Jump, Throw and Sprint
You can't get fast until you get strong, which is why lifting weights to build muscular strength is so important. However, once you build strength, you should incorporate exercises that will help you display that strength quickly (speed). Always remember that baseball is played with quick, max-effort sprints and plenty of rest in between. Train your body the same way.
Jumps can be performed vertically, laterally, forward and backward—and off either one or both legs. Medicine balls throws should be a staple in every athlete's training program. Slams, rotational and backwards throws are just a few options. Sprints should be done over short distances of 10 yards up to 60 to 100 yards
Principle #5 - Recover
Your body takes a beating from all the work you do in the weight room and on the field, and recovery is a big factor in the sports performance equation. Perform foam rolling and stretching regularly to manage muscular imbalances and prevent injury.
Start building your baseball weight training plan with STACK's Baseball Workout Guide.