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Grip and Forearm Training to Prevent Injuries

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Over the weekend, one of the biggest headlines in the baseball world was that of Andrew McCutchen, center-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, having to leave the game Saturday versus the Cardinals, shortly after making a diving play in the outfield.

This news makes most Pirates fans shake when they lay down at night because McCutchen is one of the best players on the team and the team is having one its best years in recent history. Losing McCutchen could spell certain doom for the team as they are knee-deep in a pennant race with the Cincinnatti Reds, going into the mid-point of the season.

McCutchen did not leave the game right away, toughing out two more at-bats after rolling his wrist, but you could tell that it was seriously bothering him as he swung the bat due to the pain etched on his face. That’s never good. McCutchen had to sit out Sunday’s game as well, but as of writing has not been placed on the disabled list.

This is exactly the type of injury that players and coaches dread. McCutchen is highly athletic and plays aggressively all the time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the dive, even after making the play, McCutchen’s glove rolled beneath his body somewhat and most likely either strained some soft tissue or knocked something out of alignment in his wrist.

Plus, when you hurt your hand or wrist in baseball, if it doesn’t get fixed right away, it will be there for everything you do. And it might not hurt so bad that it keeps you from playing, but it will be right there hiding and every so often bite you again when you swing the back, move your glove in a weird angle, or push the gate open to go to the plate. Eventually, it gets into your head and even though it doesn’t hurt bad it still distracts you.

When it comes to injuries, they are always best avoided. Unfortunately when you have a spirited player such as McCutchen, who readily puts his body on the line for the benefit of his team, diving, rolling, sliding hard into bases, and breaking up players, trauma such as this can happen sometimes.

For that reason, for baseball players who want to play hard and put up the big statistics as well, it is important to do everything possible to bullet-proof the body. For the forearms, wrists and hands, here are some simple exercises that you can start implementing in your training right away that will hit your lower arms from all angles and start turning your hands into iron.

Hammer Rotations

When swinging the bat, if you want to maximize your power, you have to have serious forearm strength to turn the bat. So for this one, we will target the muscles that rotate the forearm: the supinator, pronator, and others that support this movement.

For this one, you’ll need either a sledge hammer, axe, or some other long device to create leverage. Grip the hammer about half way down the handle. Start with the hammer head veritcal and from there, slowly rotate the hammer under control in both directions.

This video shows you a couple of variations of Sledge Hammer Rotations:

Plate Clamp Press

When squeezing the glove, the fingers do not ball up like a fist, they actually do a motion that is called clamping where the finger tips move toward the base of the palm. It is important to include this type of Grip training in your routine in order strengthen this movement correctly.

In order to strengthen your Clamping Grip, you will need four ten pound plates. Put them together in pairs with the smooth sides out. Wrap your fingers over the top of the plates and clamp them tightly into your palm. Now, perform a pressing movement overhead until you can feel the plates want to fall out. At that point, terminate the set, rest the hands for 30 seconds to a minute and then hit more reps.

Two tens is generally the thickness that works best for most people. To increase the weight by adding another dime can make it too large to fit in your hand, so if two tens is too light, try adding a chain through the center of the plates in order to add more resistance.

A couple ways to perform the Plate Clamp Press:

Pony Clamp Pinching

The thumb is an often neglected part of the hand, but it is very important to include it in your Grip training. One of the best ways is using a Pony Clamp. These are available at many hardware stores and even some dollar stores. I like the ones with flat handles the best.

Grip the Pony Clamp with one handle on the finger side and one on the thumb side and try to touch the handles together. You can perform this exercise for maximum reps, speed reps, holds for time, and if the resistance is too light for you, just wrap rubber bands around the clamp end to increase the resistance.

Here are a few variations you can do with the Pony Clamp:

The Pony Clamp with Extended Handles is one of the cool, effective, and simple training tools I show you how to make in Home Made Strength II: Grip Strength Edition. Click that link or the banner below to check it out today.

Extensor Bucket Lift

No Grip Training program is complete if it doesn’t feature some sort of extensor work. If you neglect your extensors, you not only can create an imbalance that could turn into an injury down the road, but you can also hold your strength development back. By strengthening the extensors you will also be able to further strength then flexors of the lower arms.

One way to do this is with an extensor bucket. I like to use an empty cheese ball loaded with steel and iron for the resistance. You can also use a pretzel container if cheese balls are “not your bag.”

Once you fill the container, stick the finger and thumb tips in and extend them out forcefully against the rim of the opening and then lift the container up. Once lifted, you can make the back of the forearm work even more intensely by flexing and extending the wrist.

Here is the Extensor Bucket in action:

These are just 4 simple exercises that you probably already have the equipment to perform, but there are hundreds of more ways to train for grip and forearm strength that can help you perform at a high level and stay injury free on the field.

My Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball has over 200 exercises in it. Remember, it’s not only important to have strong hands and forearms for playing the game, but if some kind of traumatic injury takes place, the athlete that is best prepared will often get back on the field more quickly.

Let’s hope that is what happens with McCutchen. He is a great player that loves the game and plays with passion and flair, and it would be a shame for him to miss a large portion of the season due to this injury.

If you want to bullet-proof your hands and forearms, check out Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball.

All the best in your training,

Jedd


The Coolest thing about Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball is that the overwhelming majority of people who have bought it from me do not even play baseball. UFTB is the most complete and most detailed resource of Grip and Forearm Training in existence. If you want training ideas for the lower arms, this is the resource you want. No one else can touch it in terms of content, illustrations, program layout, and of course my email product support.


Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I have written many ebooks and produced many DVD’s, but until now I have never worked on my own solo project for a specific sport. Today, I released Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball, so I wanted to tell you all a little bit about it.

Why I Wrote Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball

I played baseball for 15 years in my youth and I love to watch the game. In fact, we just got tickets for a Yankees game in August and I feel like a kid at Christmas time waiting for the day to come. I knew I wanted to write a program for some sport for a long time, but my ever increasing love and obsession with the game of baseball led me toward penning something that would help baseball players.

Recently, I checked around the net to see what information was available on Forearm and Grip Strength training for baseball, and I found that there is a quite a bit of general information out there, but very little good information.

Why I Chose “Forearm Training” instead of “Grip Training”

If you’ve been coming to the Diesel site for a while, you know I talk a lot about training Grip in a lot of my posts, so it would come as no surprise that I would put something together about lower arm and hand training, however, for some it was quite a surprise to see me put something out on Forearm Training. I named it Forearm Training instead of Grip Training, because a lot of the general public still gets confused sometimes about what exactly the word Grip means. The manual is packed with both methods of Forearm Training and Grip Training.

Why is Grip and Forearm Training Important for Baseball?

Baseball is a sport of strength and power. In Baseball, force is often generated by the legs, transferred up through the core and into the torso, and then directed through the ball, bat, or glove. If there is any weakness, pain, or imbalance in the elbow, forearm, wrist, or hands, then the transfer of the power that our body generates can’t be 100% effective.

Baseball Coaches and players have understood the importance of hand and forearm strength for decades, but unfortunately there have been very few good resources available about how to develop this strength. Often the information that is passed down from parents, coaches, and older players is out-dated recycled information, which limits players’ development. Thus the reason people are still doing the same exercises in 2010 that I was doing as a child, high school player, and college player.

Below are many facets of the game that involve the use of the hands.

Hitting: The hands hold and control the bat, taking the bat to where it is supposed to go and transferring all the leg and core power through the bat and into the ball. A neglected aspect of the baseball swing lies in the microscopic adjustments that take place when making the bat hit the moving pitch. This is heavily controlled by the last two fingers of the hand, yet almost nobody targets these important fingers.

Pitching: Pitching involves transferring the power generated by the legs and core throughout the wind-up into the ball by snapping the wrist like the end of a bull whip. Pitching also involves the ability to angle the wrist through varying degrees of rotation and deviation for pitches such as curveballs, sliders, sinkers, and screwballs.

Catching: Catchers themselves have to play a large portion of the game with their mitt held wide open for the pitcher to use as a target. They have to catch balls coming all speeds and angles and have to be able to maneuver their glove quickly, especially for pitches in the dirt. This requires full range of motion.

Tagging: How many times have we experienced or seen on TV a player applying a tag only to see the ball pop out at the last second and no out is recorded? What if you don’t have time to cover up the glove with your off hand? This movement pattern is called pinching and requires specific strategies to train, and the equipment you need is already in your weight room or garage.

Diving: How many times have we seen outfielders dive for a ball only to roll their wrist underneath them and miss half the season or more? With correct lower arm strengthening protocols, we can become more resilient against injury and allow us to bounce back quicker if we do experience an injury of this kind.

Sliding: When you slide there is always a chance to bend a wrist too far back, jam a finger on a bag or shoe, or get stepped on by a cleat. We have to do everything we can to make our hands bullet proof, and this can be done with the short and concise workouts I have already planned for you. Don’t have much equipment? No problem. I have given you hundreds of movements to choose from with many alternatives for the equipment you use.

Unilateral Imbalance: Baseball is loaded with unilateral movement and imbalance. Throwing, Pitching, Non-Switch Hitting, and Catching are all examples of things we do with one side of the body but not the other. This leads to cumulative trauma throughout various parts of our bodies and eventually injury and downtime. This problem is compounded by improper grip training practices. I will show you how to maintain balance in your training with proper exercise selection.

What is in Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball?

Here is an abbreviated Table of Contents of the Manual. This just includes the main sections of the manual.

    SPORT-SPECIFIC DEMANDS OF THE LOWER ARMS 29
    COMMON INJURIES AND CONDITIONS ASSOC’D WITH BASEBALL 32
    HOW THE LOWER ARMS WORK 34
    FULL BODY STRENGTH TRAINING 64
    CONVENTIONAL GYM EQUIPMENT 72
    SPORT SPECIFIC EQUIPMENT 79
    HOME MADE GRIP EQUIPMENT 85
    CROSS TRAINING TOOLS 97
    SPECIALIZED GRIP EQUIPMENT 112
    EXERCISE INDEX 132
    GRIP & FOREARM ISOLATION 133
    GRIP & FOREARM INTEGRATION 246
    SPORT SPECIFIC GRIP & FOREARM MOVEMENTS 297
    RECOVERY & PREVENTION METHODS 302
    RECOVERY & PREVENTION TOOLS 317
    RECOVERY & PREVENTION ACTIVITIES 340
    RECOVERY & PREVENTION SERVICES 354

What is Grip and Forearm Isolation?

Grip and Forearm Isolation refers to training a specific aspect of grip or forearm training in a way so that the effort is almost completely focused in the lower arm and hand area. For example, an isolation movement for pinch is Block Weight Deadlifts. Even though stability takes place at the shoulder and movement takes place at the waist, hips, and knees, there is not substantial force generated at any area except the hand in pinch gripping and hold the Block Weight in the hand. Other examples of Grip and Forearm Isolation include Gripper Closes and Reverse Wrist Curls.

What is Grip and Forearm Integration?

Grip and Forearm Integration involves working large portions of the body as the principle target of the exercise, yet the Grip or the Forearms still remains a significant limiting factor in being able to complete the movement. An example would Thick Rope Climbing. It takes upper body strength, coordination, and stamina in order to climb a rope and by using a very thick rope, the demand on the grip is increased.

What is Better, Isolation or Integration?

Both types of training are extremely important.

Grip Isolation is necessary for establishing a foundation in the lower arms. By working in Isolation, we can strengthen the individual components of the lower arm and take care of any neglected areas or weaknesses. For instance, a commonly neglected area of the lower arm is the extensor muscles. We can isolate them in order to bring up our weaknesses and re-establish antagonistic balance. Weaknesses in the lower arms might come from an injury such as a broken arm or hand. By isolating, we can direct our attention to a specific area or aspect.

Grip Integration is the next step. Sporting activities generally don’t involve isolated sections of the body. Instead, the body works together

By working Grip Integration in our strength training, we are working our bodies in a more sport-specific way. Also, by performing Grip Integration movements, the hands and forearms have the potential to move and generate force over a wider path of movement. This can be seen in many varieties of Swings and Cleans using Grip-intensive equipment such as Thick Bar Dumbbells, and with Thick Rope Training, such as sled pulls.

What if I Don’t Play Baseball? Is this Manual any Good to Me?

I wrote this manual as a way for the baseball player, coach or parent to gain a better understanding of lower arm training and how to turn it into improved performance on the field. The members of the Diesel Universe may have a better understanding of these concepts because they have been coming here for years, but the Exercise Index in the manual is HUGE – 200 pages – and there is still a tremendous amount of information in the manual that has never been covered before here on the site, especially along the lines of preventive measures for the lower arms. I cover Injury Prevention and Recovery Methods in detail, coming from what I have researched over the years and what I have used to battle my own lower arm, hand and thumb problems.

To wrap it all up, this manual is huge and jam packed with information on lower arm training. I am very happy with how it turned out and think it is going to be an important resource for years to come for baseball players and participants in other sports as well.

You check it out here = > Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball

Thanks for your support and all the best in your training.

-Jedd-