Having "wings" on your back is a much-desired look for an athlete, but most baseball players don't realize the importance of a strong back for success on the diamond. In 2007, the Vanderbilt University baseball squad soared to a school record 54 victories and won the SEC Championship, thanks in large part to their devotion to simple strength training.
"In baseball you've got to have strong hands, whether you're throwing, catching or swinging a bat," says John Sisk, the Commodores' baseball strength and conditioning coach. To help develop a strong core, back, and hands, Sisk recommends the old-fashioned Pull-Up. "Having a strong back will help your core and also help your bench. If you want to have a big bench, you've got to have a strong back," he asserts.
Though not a favorite of many in gym class, don't turn your back on the Pull-Up during your next workout:
• Place hands slightly beyond shoulder width apart, and grip bar with palms facing away from you
• Pull-up until chin is over or even with bar
• Lower down until arms are fully extended
• Don't swing or use legs for momentum
Sets/Reps/Rest: 3x10/ 45-60 seconds between sets
Adaptation: Vary handgrips and positions to work different back, shoulder and arm muscles:
• Palms away and even with shoulders
• Palms facing you shoulder width apart [chin-up]
• Palms facing you with hands touching
• Hands even with shoulders, one palm facing you, one palm away
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