Best Strength Training Exercises for Baseball
Off Season Training for Baseball
A guest post by Joe Meglio
One of the biggest problems I see in high school, college, and professional baseball players is their off season training program. Too often I see these athletes performing the WRONG exercises. Some athletes focus on the “beach muscles” that don’t have any positive effect on performance. Others will only train their “core” and do rotator cuff work. While it is important to train the core and rotator cuff, by no means should they be the meat and potatoes of your program.
Instead of focusing on these exercises that don’t have any positive effect on athletic performance, baseball players should perform compound lifts. These lifts give you the best bang for your buck and help you optimize performance. Once the baseball season approaches, baseball players should start to include more jumps, medicine ball throws and sprints.
Below is a list of my top 10 lifts for baseball players in the off season.
Top 10 Exercises for Baseball Players
1) Squat Variations
Squats are the king of all lower body exercises. The best variation for baseball players are safety bar squats because it forces baseball players out of external rotation. Back squats and box squats are also great variations.
Want to bullet proof your hamstrings? GHR’s are one of the best ways to strengthen the muscles of the posterior chain. Do them for high reps with bodyweight or hold a plate across your chest for a moderate amount of reps. You can also throw an EliteFTS band around your neck and do them for a different variation.
In my opinion pull ups are the king of all upper body exercises for baseball players. The athletes that can perform a ton of pull ups are usually the ones that run the fastest and jump the highest. Pull up strength = relative body strength. Perform these with various grips: overhand, underhand, mixed grip, and neutral (the best). If you can perform 15+ with your bodyweight try to add resistance by throwing a chain around your neck or adding weight to a belt.
4) DB Bench Press
DB presses are awesome for increasing pressing power. I recommend all baseball players perform them with a neutral grip. You can perform these on a flat or incline bench. If you want to make it more challenging try 1 arm bench press or alternating presses.
These are awesome to balance out db pressing and to strengthen the often ignored muscles of the back. I don’t care if you row with 1 arm or bent over with a barbell or kettlebells. T bar rows are another great option and occasionally chest supported rows.
6) Prowler / Sled drags
Prowler pushes and sled drags are the best way to increase work capacity. When performed at the end of your workout, they are an excellent way to improve conditioning. You can also use them as a tool to train speed.
7) Farmer Walks
No other exercise addresses the 3 main weaknesses in most baseball players like farmer walks. They will increase your grip strength, core strength and address weakness in the upper back. These 3 areas that are often overlooked and weak in most baseball players. Perform these by walking with heavy dumbbells, kettlebells or farmer walk handles for a certain distance.
8. Lunge Variations
Overcoming muscular imbalances are critical to preventing injuries. In order to overcome muscular imbalances caused from pitching, swinging, throwing and running, unilateral training is critical. Lunges are excellent for this. Perform them by moving forward or reverse. Hold dumbbells, kettlebells or sandbags. You can also make these more challenging by holding them in different positions such as overhead, near your chest (rack position) or by your side (farmer or suitcase position).
Not much needs to be said here. Deadlifts are an awesome lift that train every muscle in your body and it is a true measure of raw strength. Straight bar deadlifts are the king. Trap Bar Deadlifts are a good alternative and Romanian Deadlifts are an excellent supplemental lift.
10) Box Jumps
In order to increase speed, power and explosiveness, rate of force development needs to be increased. One of my favorite ways to train this is through box jumps.
Off-Season Programming for Baseball Players
The best approach to designing an off season program is to keep it simple. Perform 3-5 lifts per workout.
If you are performing more than this ask yourself “Why am I I performing this exercise?” If you can’t answer this question, the lift shouldn’t be in your program.
Each workout should start with a big compound lift like a squat, deadlift or weighted pull up. If you have a baseball player that isn’t a pitcher and hasn’t had any shoulder problems feel free to start with an overhead lift or bench press. Follow it up with some dumbbell, kettlebell or bodyweight exercises. At the end of the workout you can then worry about adding in a couple sets of “core training” or rotator cuff work.
About Joe Meglio
Joe Meglio is a strength & conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, New Jersey. He is mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh. While Joe has worked with various athletes at the high school, college and professional level, Joe specializes in the training of baseball players. Aside from being a strength coach, Joe competed in his first powerlifting meet on December 11, 2010 and set the NJ state squat, deadlift and total records in his weight class and division. He will be graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May of 2011 with a BS in Entrepreneurial Studies and is captain of the FDU Devils baseball team. For more information on Joe Meglio and his unique training methods please check out MeglioFitness.com