Sharpen 5 Tools for Baseball

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Justin Upton
A five-tool baseball player does everything well on the diamond. He hits for average and power, runs the bases well, plays solid defense and possesses a cannon for an arm. Major Leaguers train with the right goals in mind to build all facets of their game. And now you can, too.

STACK researched the best MLB training routines in the business and pulled together two workouts aimed at improving every aspect of on-field performance. The workouts are inspired by Gold Glovers, Silver Sluggers, MVPs and World Series champions. Incorporate them into your training.

With the STACK toolbox, you'll see which exercises will help you hit more bombs, throw with power, tear up the base paths, and enhance your range on the field. Just remember STACK when you sign your first pro contract.

How to Do it:

Perform all sets of each exercise before moving on to the next one, resting as needed to ensure proper form. Both workouts can be incorporated into your existing training routine. Make sure to allow at least two full days of rest between workouts.

Workout A

To enhance fielding prowess and hitting power, perform this six-exercise
routine provided by Jimmy Rollins and Evan Longoria

Three-time Gold Glove SS Jimmy Rollins has made a career out of reacting to sharply hit ground balls in the hole. To expand his range in all directions, Rollins performs exercises that improve his body control and lateral speed.

At 6'2", 210 pounds, Evan Longoria doesn't possess the typical power-hitter build, which makes his strength even more special. Longoria's power comes from his core and legs, which is why he uses exercises that strengthen his abdominal muscles down through his lower body.

1. Speed Lunges

  • Step forward with right leg and lower into lunge position until left knee is just off ground; pause for two counts
  • Without changing hip or shoulder level, quickly step forward with left leg and assume lunge position with right knee just off ground; pause for two counts
  • Repeat for specified distance then perform a 10-yard sprint

Reps/Distance: 4x20 yards + 10-yard sprint

2. Resisted Shuffle

  • Assume athletic stance with partner providing band resistance from left
  • Shuffle right for specified distance while partner provides steady and continuous resistance
  • Alternate direction for each rep

Reps/Distance: 4x20 yards each direction

3. Ground Balls on Speed Ladder With Med Ball

  • Begin with left foot in first box of ladder and right foot outside of box while holding med ball in front
  • Lower into fielding position, gently touching med ball to ground
  • Quickly shuffle feet, striking right foot in second box and left foot outside and to left
  • Immediately lower into fielding position, gently touching med ball to ground
  • Repeat pattern continuously for length of ladder
  • Perform backwards down length of ladder

Reps: 3 (down and back is one rep)

4. Weighted Bulgarian Squat

  • Assume split stance with rear foot elevated on bench or box
  • Keeping chest up and front knee behind toes, squat until front knee is bent at 90-degree angle
  • Drive through front heel to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite foot forward

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each leg

5. Bosu Med Ball Rotational Throws

  • Assume athletic semi-squat position on top of Bosu disc
  • Receive med ball from partner in front, rotate torso left, then rotate torso right to throw ball back
  • Catch ball and rotate to right side
  • Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each side

6. Med Ball Sit-Up Throws

  • Assume Sit-Up position with partner in front
  • Perform controlled Sit-Up after receiving ball overhead from partner
  • Throw ball back to partner from overhead as you return to start position

Sets/Reps: 3x10-15

Workout B

To increase your speed, hitting consistency and arm strength, perform this eight-exercise
routine provided by Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Justin Upton

For a speedster like Carl Crawford (he has led the AL in stolen bases four times), movement prep is crucial to improving core stability and enhancing the range of motion in his speed muscles. Crawford performs exercises designed to increase his pillar strength and hip flexibility, which helps him generate and transfer power from the ground up when sprinting.

Former AL MVP and three-time All-Star Dustin Pedroia is consistently among the league leaders in on-base percentage and pitches per plate appearance. His ability to extend at-bats is made possible through exercises that develop his upper-body strength and rotational movement.

Justin Upton has one of the best arms in baseball because he performs exercises that strengthen his shoulders and the stabilizing muscles around the shoulder joint. He uses a full range of motion and controlled movement to increase flexibility and prevent injury.

1. Forward Lunge Elbow to Instep

  • Step forward with right foot into Lunge position
  • Lower hips until back knee is one to two inches off ground; contract glutes
  • Without letting front knee move past toes, bring right elbow to instep of foot
  • Repeat with opposite leg and elbow

Sets/Distance: 2x10-15 yards

2. Backward Lunge and Twist

  • Step backward with right foot into Lunge position
  • Lower hips until back knee is one to two inches off ground
  • Without letting front knee move past toes, twist upper body over front leg to slight point of tension
  • Repeat with opposite leg

Sets/Distance: 2x10-15 yards

3. Squat Jumps

  • Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hands behind head
  • Perform Squat and explosively jump as high as possible
  • Land softly in Squat position and immediately perform again
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x8

4. Rotational Cable Row

  • With cable machine to right, assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Reach across body with left hand, turning hips and shoulders to cable machine, to hold handle set at low position
  • Explosively rotate hips left and bring handle across body until it's above and outside left shoulder
  • Return to start position and repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each side

5. Weighted Neutral-Grip Pull-Up

  • With weight attached to belt around waist, grab neutral-grip pull-up bar with palms facing each other
  • Perform Pull-Up until chin is above bar
  • Lower with control until arms are almost straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3x8

6. Chest Fly

  • On Chest Fly machine, drive arms inward to midline of body using twocount contraction
  • Return to start position using four-count negative; repeat

Sets/Duration: 1x60 seconds

7. Dumbbell Row

  • Place right hand and right knee on bench and left leg on floor to side
  • Hold dumbbell in left hand with palm facing inward
  • Bring dumbbell to chest while keeping elbow tight to body; hold for one count
  • Lower dumbbell to start position; repeat
  • Perform on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 2x10 each arm

8. Machine Shoulder Press

  • Grasp handles at shoulder level with palms facing inward
  • Drive weight up using two-count contraction until arms are straight; hold for one count
  • Lower weight to start position using four-count negative; repeat

Sets/Duration: 1x60 seconds


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock