Improve Pitching Performance and Health With These Suspension Trainer Exercises

These exercises will build arm strength and help pitchers throw harder.

Watching a pitch in slow motion gives us a deeper insight into the power and violence that goes into one of the highest velocity movements in spots. It's also much easier to see that pitching is a full-body movement, and that the arm and shoulder are just the final piece of that movement.

Because of the rotational forces needed to create a high-speed pitch, it's imperative to develop a strong core and midsection to "tie" the lower and upper body together to access all available power. Suspension trainer exercises for pitchers are the best choice for core development and full-body rotational power.

This is even more important with single-sport athletes who spend all their time throwing or hitting on just their dominant side.

Weakness from side to side is a predictor of injury, but also matters in terms of overall throwing velocity. If the dominant arm is super strong, but the opposite side is weak, the central nervous system won't allow the muscles to access their full power to avoid an injury.

That's where suspension trainer exercises for pitchers become incredibly important.

Suspension straps force the body to work as a single unit, with a high focus on the core. These exercises are "self-limiting," which means that it's very difficult to do them incorrectly. Poor form will result in not being able to do the exercise at all, making them ideal for youth athletes or anyone with an injury.

Baseball Pitcher

Ultimate Side Plank

The Side Plank is a necessary exercise for pitchers or anyone who does a rotational sport. Classified as an "anti-lateral flexion" movement, the key is to not let the bottom hip drop.

The Ultimate Side Plank adds another level by adding a rotational component while the feet are suspended. This takes incredible balance, concentration and full-body tension. Not only is this a great exercise to build the side of the core and obliques, it also adds a degree of full-body control and focus.

Coaches Notes:

Start face down with toes in the straps. Turn to the side and put the forearm down. Spread the feet heel to toe, with the top foot in front.

Lift the hips and find a strong position. From here "do the running man" by bringing your toe and heel farther apart and then back together. Then take the top arm, slowly rotate to touch the ground, and then return to the starting position. Finally, "crunch" the side closest to the ground by bringing the hip up to the ceiling.

Single-Arm Fallout

Fallouts are a great exercise that work the lat, the core and the triceps. The single-arm version goes a step further by forcing the obliques to work harder to maintain perfect posture. Again, this links the upper- and lower-body together physically, and through forming a "neural pathway," a stronger link from your brain to that movement.

Coaches Notes:

Start with one hand holding the handle of the suspension strap with the arm parallel to the ground. Keeping the abs engaged, "fall" forward, moving only at the shoulder.

Go to a position a few degrees less than overhead. Reverse, and come back to the starting position slowly.

The farther apart the legs are, the easier this is. The narrower the stance, the more difficult for the core and balance.

Mountain Climbers

A traditional Mountain Climber on the ground is an often-butchered exercise that you see in boot camps nationwide. But doing this exercise with toes in the straps and a high degree of focus on control is a game changer.

The side-to-side motion of moving the legs in and out creates rotational force on the body that we want to negate by bracing the core.

Coaches Notes:

Start face down with toes in the straps and then get into a push-up position. Start with a strong core.

Bring one knee to the chest at a time. Return to the pushup position every rep before repeating on the other side.

Single-Arm Row

Every baseball player should include a high volume of Rows in his program. Shoot for at least a 2:1 ratio of rowing exercises to pushing exercises like the Bench Press.

The single-arm version is great because of the additional anti-rotational component that comes with a single-sided bodyweight exercise.

Coaches Notes:

Start by holding one handle with the shoulder blade "tucked into your back pocket." Slowly let your body release back until the arm is completely extended.

Pull back in, focusing on keeping the opposite side of the core than the hand you're using tight.

Single-Leg Squat

The Single-Leg Squat is great for building lower-body power and resilience with no weight. This move combines mobility, strength and athleticism, and is challenging at any level.

Like the Single-Arm Row, the "unilateral" aspect of this move challenges the core and balance for a well-rounded athlete.

Coaches Notes:

Grab the handles with both hands and make sure the feet are set right below the hands. Straighten one leg and extend it in front.

Lower down until the back of the thigh and the calf are touching, making sure the full foot is touching the ground.

Stand back up, using as much strength from the hands and arms as needed. Repeat.

The Program

Here's a 20-minute program that can be done on a baseball backstop after a practice or during conditioning day.

  • A1. Single-Leg Squat x 40 sec. each side
  • Rest 20 seconds between legs. Repeat x 3-5 rounds
  • B1. Ultimate Side Plank x 40 sec each side
    B2. Mountain Climbers x 40 sec.
  • No rest between exercises. Rest 60 seconds after B2. Repeat 3-5 rounds.
  • C1. Single-Arm Fallout x 40 sec each side
    C2 Single-Arm Row x 40 sec each side
  • No rest between exercises. Rest 60 seconds after C2. Repeat 3-5 rounds.