As a pitcher, most of your strength and size gains are made during the off-season, but if you don't carefully integrate workouts into your practice and game schedule, you could derail your performance during the season.
When our guys show up in early fall, it's almost like an episode of The Walking Dead. They often arrive beat up and hurt. We address any glaring injuries and spend up to three weeks doing nothing but foam rolling, mobility and regeneration work.
As the off-season progresses, so does the training. Jokes aside, baseball players are athletes and should train as such. At Cressey Performance, you may mistake our baseball players for football guys preparing for the Combine. They're deadlifting, squatting, pushing sleds and performing explosive movements to get bigger, faster and stronger. They'll likely add significant mass to their frames but also maintain or improve movement quality, which translates to improved performance on the diamond.
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When it comes to in-season training, we need to take a somewhat different approach.
It's funny: whenever I start working with a new athlete, part of my job is to convince him to omit things from his training. Through no fault of their own, many athletes are eager to add the latest fitness trend to their training repertoire, which is fine assuming it fits appropriately with their training experience and injury history.
But if you plan to add something to your training program, you must omit something. The season itself is a massive addition.
To account for the demands of your season, alter the volume and intensity you use during the off-season. This doesn't mean you shouldn't squat, deadlift or lift heavy weight. But the primary objective of in-season training is to maintain the strength gains you made during your off-season and manage wear-and-tear on your body from practice and games.
Simply put: stronger, well-prepared athletes who continue to train during the season are less likely to break down.
Consider these in-season guidelines for pitchers:
- Following a two-workout-per week program with full-body routines works well for pitchers, especially starters. Bullpen guys may need to break up the workouts into three smaller increments because their pitching schedule is less predictable.
- Always train the day after you start on the mound and perform a workout that's more demanding than your second training day, focused on the lower body. This condenses training stress and allows for more recovery days before your next start.
- Schedule your second training day two days prior to your next start. Focus on concentric-based training to prevent any delayed onset muscle soreness. Also, perform mostly upper-body lifts and limit aggressive lower-body moves such as Squats and Deadlifts.
- Notice there is no distance running in the workouts. Going for long distance runs or "running poles" are not priorities. Throwing a baseball is explosive, taking one second to complete. I understand it's tradition, but going for a 30-minute jog is the exact opposite of developing or even maintaining explosiveness, and it flies in the face of sport-specificity. If you train slow (i.e., jog), you'll be slow. Also, the idea that jogging gets rid of lactic acid is nonsense. It actually accumulates more fatigue!
- Add a third movement that addresses common problem areas. Do this prior to every training session and/or as a separate bonus workout.
- A1) Trap Bar Deadlift – 3-4x4
- A2) Prone Single-Arm Trap Raise – 3x8 each arm
- B1) Standing Single-Arm Cable Row – 3x10 each arm
- B2) Push-Up Variation – 3x8
- C1) Reverse Lunge – 2-3x8-10 each leg
- C2) Physioball Rollout – 2x10
- D) Side-Lying External Rotation – 2x10 each arm
- A1) TRX or Seated Cable Row - 3x10-12
- A2) Half-Kneeling Single-Arm Landmine Press - 3x6-8 each arm
- B1) Dumbbell Step-Ups - 3x8-10 each leg
- B2) Face Pulls - 3x12
- C1) Barbell Glute Bridge - 2-3x8-10
- C2) Pallof Press - 2-3x8-10 each side
- D) Cable External Rotation - 2x10 each arm
Mobility and Movement Quality
- Glute Bridge – 1x10
- Quadruped Extension-Rotation – 1x8 each side
- Split-Stance Adductor Mobilization – 1x8 each leg
- Forearm Wall Slides - 1x8
- Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion - 1x8
- High Knee to Forward Lunge - 1x5 each leg
- Alternating Lateral Lunge Walk - 1x5 each leg
- Groiner/Spiderman - 1x5 each leg
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