To be a elite baseball player your baseball workouts need to develop all 5 tools. You need to be able to hit for average, hit for power, field, throw, and run. Now you can’t improve all of these skills in the gym. Hitting for average, hitting for power to some degree, and fielding are things that require hours and hours of practice on the field. It doesn’t matter how hard you swing a bat, if you pitch recognition is sub-par you won’t hit for average or power.
What well planned baseball workouts can do is increase your physical tools. In the gym you can increase your ability to generate bat speed can buy you another precious tenth of a second or two to square up a pitch. You can also increase your speed and quickness on the basepaths as well as in the field. So what should yourstrength training consist of?
STRENGTH EXERCISES FOR BASEBALL WORKOUTS
- FRONT SQUAT
- SLEDGEHAMMER SWINGS
- SEATED POWER CLEANS
- EXTERNAL DUMBBELL ROTATIONS
You’ll notice that I did not include the bench press or the overhead press on the list. I know that no matter what I say here you are going to press. That’s why I didn’t bother including either. There is a big debate over which one is more effective. I personally believe that the overhead press is superior. However, baseball players develop shoulder problems from pattern overload so it is hard to recommend one over the other.
You’ll also notice that the list works from the floor up. Baseball workouts should emphasize the lower body over the upper body. To be a true five tool player you should think of your body as a whip. The legs provide the base of power, the core transfers that power up through the body, and the hand or arm use that power to swing the bat or throw the ball.
Let’s take a closer look at the exercises.
FRONT SQUAT For some of you this will be new exercise. The few of you that do squat have probably been taught the back squat. And the back squat is a very effective exercise. For baseball players I believe the front squat is superior because of the additional core work it provides. You have to have very strong abdominals and lower back to maintain the proper upright position during the Front Squat.
DEADLIFT: The deadlift is probably the best exercise for overall strength. If an athlete can only do one exercise in a training session they would be hard pressed to find a better one than the deadlift. It works your entire posterior chain as well as your forearm and grip. If you get stronger at the deadlift and front squat, you will get faster on the basepaths as well as swing/throw harder.
SLEDGEHAMMER SWINGS: Ted Williams used to say that he developed his swing by chopping down trees. Any baseball player that saw his swing probably grabbed an axe and headed to the forest. Sledgehammer swings are a more convenient option these days. Doing overhead swings works your core, as well as your grip strength and forearms. This has a tremendous carry over to your bat speed.
SEATED POWER CLEANS: You may or may not be familiar with this exercise, but it is one of the best for your rear delts and upper back. What some fail to realize is that the rear delts serve as the brakes of your arm. Your body tries to limit your arm speed to what your brakes (rear delts) can handle. So if you increase your rear delts braking ability your arm speed will increase.
EXTERNAL DUMBBELL ROTATIONS: Baseball players throw a lot. Many develop pattern overload in their throwing shoulder. Positional players and especially pitchers develop rotator cuff issues. External dumbbell rotations are a good way to keep the muscles of your rotator cuff in balance. When these muscles become imbalanced that is when a player developed shoulder problems.
There you go. Five exercises to include in your baseball workouts. Some of them you may already be doing, but some of them may be new to you. If you improve your strength on those five exercises your performance on the field will improve. If you want to be a complete baseball player you have to use the most effective exercises. If it doesn’t help you between the lines, then it is a waste of time.