Inseason Baseball Strength Training - Installment 1
One of the biggest mistakes baseball players make in regards to strength and conditioning is failure to “maintain” offseason strength gains once the season starts. Research has shown that maintenance lifts must be performed at least once and ideally twice per week during the inseason period to avoid losing strength and power throughout the season.
This can be a tall task during high school and college seasons, when many teams (especially in the northern half of the country) have to cram an entire season’s worth of games into a two or three-month schedule and are playing several games each week. As you can see, being efficient in the weight room is a necessity during the baseball season.
Since time is limited and energy scarce, it’s best to go with exercises that “kill two birds with one stone,” or exercises that train multiple areas of the body simultaneously. For example, choosing an upper body exercise that involves a core stability component along with it would be a great choice for an in-season strength program.
Here’s a Side Bridge Row, an exercise that works the obliques at the same time as several muscles of the back, like the lats, trapezius, and rhomboids – muscles that, when functioning properly, are crucial for shoulder health.
How to do it:
Set up at a cable station (or band) in a side bridge position
Lift your hips up and squeeze your butt forward the entire time
Starting with you palm facing outwards, row with one arm, externally rotating your hand as you complete the movement to finish with your palm facing the floor
Think about doing most of the work with your shoulder blade (posteriorly tilting it) and not with the elbow
Finish with your elbow ~30-45 degrees away from your side to avoid placing too much stress on the front of your shoulder
On a slightly different note – we know that as a season progresses, baseball players (especially pitchers) lose upward rotation of the scapulae, something with enormous implications in terms of shoulder health in overhead athletes.
A 1-leg Yoga Push Up is a great exercise that involves your pecs, a rotary core stability component due to being on one leg, and scapular upward rotation when your butt shoots up in the air:
How to do it:
Set up in a push up position and take one foot a few inches off the ground
Gradually pinch your shoulder blades together (retract) as you lower and push them apart fully (protract) as you reach the top of the push up
As soon as you fully protract your shoulder blades, shoot your hips in the air while thinking about reaching your shoulder blades forward
Come right back into the push up position and repeat
Moving on to a lower body exercise that accomplishes a lot at once is a Bulgarian Split Squat with a kettlebell in one arm and bottoms up position.
How to do it:
Set up with one leg on the bench and one foot on the ground in a fairly long stride
Hold an upside-down kettlebell in the hand on the same side of your trail leg with your elbow just below shoulder level
Sit your butt back towards the bench and down at an angle, never letting the elbow with the kettlebell come lower than an inch below your shoulder
Push up with your heel
Bulgarian Split Squats themselves hit just about every muscle in your lower body, while the kettlebell forces you to reflexively fire your rotator cuff muscles and scapular stabilizers due to its upside-down unstable nature.
Having the kettlebell in the hand on the same side of your trail leg also acts to pull the working knee into internal rotation and adduction – forcing you to activate your glutes (external rotator and abductor) to a greater degree. Where does most of your power come from in sports? You, guessed it, your glutes! Try it – it’s a million times tougher than it looks!
With a grind-it-out schedule that often includes several games each week, it’s important to keep trips to the weight room efficient and productive without inducing too much stress on the body. Choosing exercises that accomplish several things at once are essential for in-season baseball strength programs.
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