At the 2011 NSCA Coaches Conference [details available here], we spoke with Sean Marohn, minor league strength and conditioning coordinator for the Cincinnati Reds.
The primary skills in baseball—hitting and throwing—are employed constantly. Together with long and grueling seasons, excessive wear-and-tear from these movements can break down the body and create strength imbalances.
According to Marohn, in order to maximize performance safely and effectively, every in-season baseball strength program should take into account the sport's unique aspects. Below, he shares a few insights on how baseball players can develop a balanced strength program.
Triple Extension Exercises
Triple extension exercises are very effective for developing power in the legs and hips. However, some, such as Olympic Lifts, can put an athlete at risk for injury if his form is improper. Marohn believes such exercises are appropriate when performed alongside a strength coach, but that they can be risky when used alone in the off-season. Instead, he recommends focusing on more controlled lifts, such as Deadlifts and Squats, and incorporating plyometric training into your routine. This formula will allow you to train for lower body power more safely and effectively.
One of the most popular weight room exercises, the Bench Press is also one of the most controversial. Too often, Marohn sees young players, who want to be heroes of the gym, bounce enormous amounts of weight off their chests. In fact, this puts excessive stress on the shoulders and can tighten surrounding muscles, thereby limiting normal throwing mechanics.
In spite of these risks, it's important to develop the upper body. Marohn recommends using a progression that begins with Push-Ups and moves to pressing exercises with cables, cords and dumbbells.
Unless you're a switch hitter, you probably take dozens of swings every day from the same side of the plate. Yes, you are perfecting your swing, but because the repetitive motion activates the same muscles repeatedly, it can cause weaknesses in lesser-used core muscles. This can interrupt the kinetic chain—the path of muscular movement through your body—leading to performance-sabotaging weakness or injury.
Marohn suggests countering this imbalance by performing exercises—such as the Med Ball Rotational Throw—that work the opposite side of the core. On days when hundreds of swings are taken, it's also beneficial to perform Planks and other stability-based core exercises to avoid overworking already-fatigued core muscles.
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