Building Lower Body Strength for Baseball Speed

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Acquiring lightning-fast speed—the kind that would make Hermes blush—is not an unattainable myth. Cal State Fullerton head strength and conditioning coach Greg Vandermade bestows the following mini routine to transform you—with apologies to Hermes, who couldn't hit a curveball—into a thunderbolt deity of the diamond.

"The purpose [of this mini-routine] is to activate and work the posterior chain," Vandermade says. Perform Squats, Romanian Deadlifts (RDL) with Shoulder Shrugs, and Swiss Ball Single-Leg Curls once a week during the off-season to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings and develop more speed on the basepaths.

• Begin in comfortable athletic stance with toes pointing slightly out
• Pick focal point at eye-level or above
• Squat down until thighs are parallel to floor
• Push through heels on outside of feet and drive upward out of squat

Sets/Reps: 2 warm-up sets followed by 4x3
Coaching Points: Perfect technique before adding weight // Maintain strong core during descent // Keep back tight // Drive up with chest first to stand tall
Benefits: Creates hip mobility, achieves lean body mass gains and incorporates lower body musculature

RDL with Shoulder Shrug
• Grip bar slightly wider than shoulder-width with palms facing body
• Hold bar at shin level just below knees
• Push hips back as you raise bar and perform shrug
• Bend at waist and lower bar down to start position below knees

Sets/Reps: 3x6
Coaching Points: Keep knees soft // Keep back and core tight with feet flat on ground // Move bar as close to ground as possible on way down // Focus on pushing hips back while raising bar
Benefits: Strengthens posterior chain and improves shoulder strength

Swiss Ball Single-Leg Curl
• Lie on back with one heel on ball
• Bridge weight on shoulder blades
• Elevate hips and curl ball toward body
• Control ball slowly back to start position

Sets/Reps: 3x6 for each leg
Adaptation: Use both heels on ball if you're unable to perform on single leg.
Coaching Points: Stay elevated and avoid dropping hips to ground // Focus on working lower back, hips and glutes during rep
Benefits: Activates and strengthens lower back, glutes and hamstrings

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock