After being shut down for the final month of the 2010 season with a small labrum tear in his left shoulder, Justin Upton made it his training priority during the off-season to prevent further injury by strengthening his shoulder muscles. Now, the power-hitting right fielder is carrying the weight of the Arizona Diamondbacks on his shoulders. He’s the team leader in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored and on-base plus slugging [OPS].
The Diamondbacks would be nowhere near contention this season if not for Upton’s MVP-worthy performance—and his durability (he’s missed only one game this year)—which is due in large part to the upper-body strengthening exercises he performed during the off-season.
“Strength training is important for staying on the field and being healthy,” Upton says. “You build that muscle and endurance in the off-season so you can make it through 162 games and play to the best of your abilities.”
Upton targets the muscles surrounding the shoulder girdle, performing many of his lifts “through a full range of motion, using progressive resistance, and in a controlled manner,” according to Denny Locascio, his off-season performance coach. Working through a full range of motion improves Upton’s flexibility, which further decreases the risk of injury.
Had he not committed to attacking his weaknesses in the off-season—and sticking to his routine during the season—2011 could have been another injury-plagued year for Upton. Instead, the budding superstar is on pace to post career highs in all statistical categories, and his D-Backs are in prime position to claim the National League West division title.
Learn more about the upper-body exercises Upton uses by watching the videos above.