The best baseball training routines involve short, explosive movement patterns with periods of rest in between. Writing for the New England Musculoskeletal Institute, licensed athletic trainer Chris Blake points out that baseball training means twisting, lunging, and pushing. Players twist when they swing a bat and throw a ball, and lunge to push the ball forward. Strength training and conditioning is achieved with exercise routines that mimic those movements.
Training for throwing athletes involves building up strength in one area first, and then incorporating it into a complete workout routine. Blake states that baseball athletes tend to have tight pectorals and weak backs. The routine used at the Health Institute involves three back exercises for each chest exercise. Strong backs help throwing athletes decelerate the shoulder and arm after ball release. The training program contains flexibility, balance, coordination and aerobic conditioning. Areas to build up first include the hip, back and abdomen. These areas are then integrated with exercises that mimic throwing. Blake uses a workout routine that is spread out over two days.
Begin the first day with 3 or 4 sets of high rows, completing 15 to 25 repetitions. Follow that with mid-level rows, completing 3 to 4 sets and 15 to 25 reps. Continue with the same number of low rows, completing 10 to 15 reps. Shoulder work follows with 4 sets of 10 reps of shoulder lateral raises, full can and front raises. Trunk bends are next with 3 or 4 sets of 10 reps. Move to trunk bends with rotations for the same number of sets and 15 to 20 reps for each side. Finish up with hip ball against the wall, 4 sets of 20 to 30 reps. The second day routine includes shoulder Swiss ball L’s, T’s, Y’s and I’s, 4 sets of each and 10 reps. Cable wood chops high to low, and mid-level, 3 to 4 sets each and 10 to 15 reps. Notice how the exercises help build out the chest while strengthening the back.
Professor David J. Szymanski at Louisiana State University recommends off season conditioning routines to improve strength, power and swing mechanics. He defines power as “a combination of strength and speed,” and he recommends using resistance training to develop strength and power. Exercise that increases strength includes squats, deadlift, bench press and rows. Once strength is improved, explosive exercises to build power are incorporated, and include snatch and clean and jerk lifts, throwing medicine balls, and plyometric exercises. Hitting exercises include swinging underweighted and over-weighted bats, where weights vary by three or four ounces.
Plyometric exercises are used in different types of sports programs for helping athletes improve agility. The exercises improve vertical jump, acceleration, leg strength, muscle power and proprioception (training the muscles to move before conscious thought). Drills involve stopping, starting and changing direction in an explosive manner. Researchers at Western Michigan University found that agility increases in as little as six weeks of exercise inception. The exercises are begun during the six weeks prior to the competitive season.