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Build a Better Baseball Body With Joe Mauer's Workout

July 3, 2014 | Featured in the Summer 2014 Issue

Like most athletes, All-Star Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer used to believe that success in the weight room comes by pushing as much weight as possible as often as possible. Not anymore.

"Now that I'm a little older, I understand you want to do things the right way," he said.

Build a better baseball body by following Mauer's strength and stretching routine, outlined below.

RELATED: Joe Mauer's Secret to Long-Term Success

Strength and Endurance 

It makes sense that Mauer’s training has always included full-body strength movements to make him powerful from the ground up through his hands. However, his heavy doses of endurance training might surprise you.

At first glance, baseball does not seem like an endurance sport. The game is played with brief bursts of energy—swings, throws and short sprints. However, a closer look reveals the reason why Mauer focuses so extensively on stamina.

“A game might start at 7:05 p.m.,” Castellano says. “But Joe’s day really started at 1. That’s when he gets to the ballpark to do his flexibility work and take swings. He takes 100 to 150 max-effort swings in the cages, then he might take another 40 or 45 out on the field. Then it’s 150 grounders and 100 throws across the diamond. He’s been at it for hours when you see him take the field at 7:05.”

Of course, Mauer needs to be strong, but it’s just as important for him to be strong all day long.

Use Mauer’s training regimen (below) to make sure you’re powerful every time you need to perform a max-effort movement on the diamond, whether in the first inning or the last.

Rope Keiser Single-Leg RDLs

Rope Keiser Single-Leg RDLs

 

  • Balance on one-leg and hold the middle of a rope attachment connected to a cable machine, pulley system or Keiser machine at its lowest setting.
  • Keeping your back flat and balancing leg slightly flexed, bend forward at your waist as you raise your opposite leg straight behind you.
  • Use your low back, glutes and hamstrings to drive up to the start position.
  • Repeat for specified reps.

Sets/Reps: 3x6-8 each leg

Castellano: “The rope improves Joe’s grip strength, while the movement itself works stability and mobility through his hip.”

Slideboard Intervals* 

Slideboard Intervals

[If a slideboard is unavailable, perform shuffles against band resistance]

  • Perform side-to-side slides or shuffles as quickly as possible for 30 seconds.
  • Rest for 30 seconds and immediately repeat.

Sets/Duration: 20-30x30 seconds

Castellano: “Side-to-side movement has stability benefits for the ankle, knee, hip and lower back and also trains his quads, glutes and hamstrings to fire together.”

Spin Bike Intervals*

  • Pedal the bike as fast as possible for 35 to 40 seconds.
  • Recover by pedaling at a medium pace for the remainder of a minute.
  • Immediately repeat.

Sets/Duration: 20-30x35-40 seconds

Castellano: “The spin bike allows us to regulate power output by controlling the resistance. Force equals mass times acceleration, so if he’s moving a higher resistance faster, we have higher power output

Treadmill Runs*

  • Sprint on a treadmill for 30 seconds, taking care to safely hop on and off the moving belt.
  • Rest for 30 seconds and immediately repeat.

Sets/Duration: 20-30x30 seconds

Castellano: “Joe performs these on an AlterG Treadmill, so he is able to run at a normal pace while supporting less than his bodyweight. It provides a great interval workout without beating him up.” 

*Choose one of the three interval routines per workout.

Flexibility

Old-school stretching gets a bad rap these days, but according to Erickson, that’s because people do it wrong. “The problem with all the stretching nowadays is they never hold a stretch long enough to develop muscle memory,” he says. “You need to hold a stretch for a good 60 to 90 seconds for it to work. Holding for 30 seconds will just tighten you up, because your body is trying to protect itself. But if you go in nice and slow and hold it long, your body realizes you’re not going to get hurt, it’ll actually release the muscle.”

Erickson’s stretching plan for Mauer focuses on common areas of tightness for baseball players. “Ball players’ hips are always going to be tight from all the swings they take,” Erickson says. “So, we’re trying to gets Joe’s hips loose, which will allow him to turn his hips rather than his back when he’s swinging. The shoulder girdle is also usually tight from all the throwing. We address that as well.”

Follow Mauer’s path to looser swings, better throws and fewer nagging injuries by performing the stretches below on a daily basis.

High and Low Lat Stretch 

High-and-Low Lat Stretch

  • Move your right arm across your chest and grip a squat rack or doorway at eye level.
  • Lean away from the rack or doorway to create a stretch through the right side of your back.
  • Hold for specified duration.
  • Repeat with your hand at navel level.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each arm

Rhomboid Stretch

Rhomboid Stretch

  • Reach straight ahead to grip a squat rack or doorway at chest level.
  • Lean back to create a stretch through the middle of your back.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each arm

High- and Mid-Pec Stretch 

High- and Mid-Pec Stretch

  • Stand in a doorway or squat rack.
  • Place the palms of your hands at eye level on each side.
  • Keeping your arms straight, lean forward until you feel a stretch through your chest.
  • Hold for specified duration.
  • Repeat with your hands at waist level.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds

Rear Delt Stretch

Rear Delt Stretch

  • Move your arm across your body and use your opposite arm to hug it into your chest.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each arm

Crossover Hip Stretch

Crossover Hip Stretch

  • Lie on your back, bend your right knee and use your left hand to pull it across your body.
  • Keep your back flat on the ground.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each leg

Straight-Leg Hip Stretch

Straight-Leg Hip Stretch

  • Same as the Crossover Hip Stretch, but keep your leg straight as you cross it over your body.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each leg

Partner Groin Stretch 

Partner Groin Stretch

  • Lie on the ground and have a partner hold one of your legs down while bringing the other leg out to the side until you feel a stretch through the groin.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each leg 

Lying Glute Stretch

Lying Glute Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat against a wall.
  • Cross one leg over the other and place your ankle on your opposite knee.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1-2x60-90 seconds each leg

Soleus Stretch 

Soleus Stretch

  • Stand with the front of one foot on a step and slowly lower your heel while slightly bending your knee.
  • Hold for specified duration and repeat.

Sets/Duration: 1x3-5 minutes each leg

RELATED: Joe Mauer's On-Field Baseball Skill Development

Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
Josh Staph
- Josh Staph is the Senior Vice President, Content at STACK Media and joined the company shortly after it was founded in 2005. He graduated from...
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