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Most baseball conditioning programs are stuck in a rut. They either avoid weight training altogether or focus on lifting heavier weight each week. Both extremes are inefficient forms of training. (Learn everything you need to know in the STACK Summer Training Guide: Baseball.)
Too much size reduces range of motion, quickness and agility. Avoiding strength training altogether limits a player's potential. The main priority of strength training programs for baseball players is to develop explosive power—not to lift like a bodybuilder.
These seven exercises will benefit all baseball players, regardless of position, because they all translate to the diamond.
7 Essential Baseball Lifts
Strong legs will make you a better runner, thrower and hitter. When performed properly, the Front Squat is one of the best ways to build strength and power. I prefer the Front Squat because it forces the lifter to maintain a more upright torso and a tighter low back. The Front Squat also places the shoulders in a more joint-friendly position.
Barbell Hip Thrust
Glute strength contributes to more powerful hip rotation, which translates into better bat speed and throwing velocity.
Because throwing athletes avoid strength training, they commonly suffer from scapula injuries. When the muscles that help to control the scapula are weak or deconditioned, the shoulder has to overcompensate and can get out of sync (also known as scapular dysrhythmia). This impacts mechanics and can contribute to impingement pain.
Blackburns strengthen the entire scapula to reduce the risk of shoulder and elbow injury.
Sets/Reps: Hold each position 10 times for 6 seconds each. Start with no weight and gradually increase the weight as needed.
A strong core will help you transfer energy efficiently into your arms during a swing or throw. The Pallof Press is a terrific exercise for building anti-rotational core strength.
Sets/Reps: 3x12 (both sides)
During a throw, your front leg must be able to absorb all the force that your body generates. If it can't maintain this energy, your overall throwing velocity will be negatively affected. The Front Lunge helps to develop a strong front leg and optimal energy transfer during the throwing motion.
Lateral Sled Drag
Both swinging and throwing are initiated by energy harnessed from powerful lateral movement, which is then converted into rotational power. Ample strength in the frontal plane will pay off big in your swinging and throwing.
Sets/Reps: 3x20 to 30-yard drags
Your hands and forearms are responsible for the final power push during a swing. A strong grip and ample forearm strength will help you transfer more energy through the ball. Plus, if you're hitting a 90-mph fastball, your forearms need enough strength to absorb that force and swing powerfully. That's the reason many big league hitters have gigantic forearms.
Sets/Reps: 3x 25 yards