Even world-class, elite-level athletes have to train to maintain then improve their overall fitness and conditioning levels. Often times, the off-season is seen as a period to relax and recuperate. And though that is true with relaxation and recuperation occurring, the off-season is also where competitive athletes find the time to rise above the competition.
Giancarlo Stanton takes his off-season training before the 2022 MLB season seriously. His training focuses on lateral movements for the frontal plane motions of baseball requirements, injury prevention, especially for the hamstrings he has already injured four times previously, and counter-rotation to improve his overall batting strength and power.
His trainer, Ben Bruno, has programmed nine exercises for Stanton that thoroughly recruit every muscle needed to perform at beyond elite levels for Major League Baseball.
Check out Bruno’s Instragram post showcasing Stanton’s workout to visualize the exercises described below.
Counter-rotation movements and exercises force the body to stabilize when it rotates. Essentially, this causes the body to execute an isometric contraction as it fights to stabilize itself from wanting to rotate. These movements strengthen a baseball player’s swing so that when the muscles necessary to rotate are recruited, they recruit faster, thus, improving explosiveness and power. To develop this for Stanton, Bruno has programmed the following:
Side-Lying Lateral Raise: This exercise, Stanton will lay sideways while holding himself up with one foot on a bench and one hand on the ground. His other leg is raised to a kneeling position for balance. The other arm laterally raises a fastball. This movement rotates his core while still trying to stabilize itself from the leg on the bench and the arm on the ground.
Side-Lying Leg Lifts Variation: With the same sideways stance, but while holding the weight above his head, Stanton pushes his feet back and forth on a sliding disc on a sliding surface. This challenges the core to stabilize under a movement with the load above the head, changing the center of gravity and forcing the body to adapt.
Kneeling Cable Pulldowns: In this exercise, Stanton will drop to one knee parallel to a cable system where he will then pull a weighted cable from one side of his body to the other. This movement challenges the entire core, especially the obliques and transverses abdominous.
Specific Injury Prevention with Hamstring
Development and Strengthening
Because Stanton has injured his hamstrings four times in the past, he wants to combat this to stay healthy for the 2022 season. Thus, Bruno has programmed the following:
Leg Curls: a variation from the standard Leg Curl Machine. Here, Stanton will tie a resistance and from his feet to a stationary object where he will then drag his feet back and forth on a sliding surface where the bands add resistance. This movement reduces impact while still developing strength as an eccentric contraction can be isolated and emphasized in this exercise.
Hip Extensions: Like a Single-Leg Straight-Leg Deadlift, Stanton will stand on one leg before leaning forward and pushing his other leg out backwards. Stanton will also hold onto a pulley system where he can add or reduce resistance. This movement stretches the hamstrings, adding to injury prevention.
Baseball involves lateral movements in many aspects of the game from baserunning, fielding, and even pitching. Lateral movements occur in the frontal plane, going side to side. Knowing this, for Stanton’s training, Bruno programmed the following:
Traditional Lateral Lunge: Stanton lunges sideways on one leg while the other extends outward before stepping back to the start position. To add resistance, Stanton holds a dumbbell.
Resistance Band Lateral Lunges: Similar to the Traditional Lateral Lunge, but in this exercise, Stanton ties a resistance band around one leg while lunging with the other.
Step Lunges: Another variation on the Traditional Lateral Lunge with a sport-carryover component, Stanton will take a lateral side-step after a lunge while placing a dumbbell on the ground to then pick it up on the next step.
An Upper-Body Finisher to Complete the Full-Body Workout
Baseball is a full-body game, and training for it should involve the entire body. For Stanton, as a sort of finisher, Bruno programmed:
Rowing Variation: Stanton will lay supine on an inclined bench. He will grab two dumbbells, one in each hand, then rows both up to his chest, place one back down, pick it up, then other side. This challenges the core, triceps, biceps, trapezius, and deltoids.
Simple But Effective
Bruno believes in simple but effective training. The flashy videos most celebrities or athletes primarily post on social media are just that, flash. Bruno’s simple but effective training shows that consistent exercise and training per sports and individual needs can aid long-term, sustained conditioning.