4 Reasons Why Your Off Season Training Program Sucks

off season training for baseball

Hey Joe, can you take a look at my off season program my coach gave me? I play college baseball and am looking to improve my pitching velocity. Thanks -Bryan 

Monday:
Flat Bench 12/10/8/8
Incline DB Bench 12/12/10/10
Inverted Rows 8×4
Barbell Shrugs 20/15/12
Skullcrushers 12×4
Curls 12/12/10/10
Weighted Sit-Ups 15×4
Hanging Knee Raise 20×3
Shoulder Circuit

situation workout

This workout sounds like another day in the office for The Situation...

Tuesday:
Hax-Bar Jumps 5/5/5/3/3
Squat 12/10/8/8/8
Reverse Hyperextensions 12/10/8/8/8
Skier Lunges w/ DB 8×3 each leg
Lat Pulldowns 12/12/10/10
Dead Man Hang 1xMax
Hurdles or Bands 1×20 under
Hurdles or Bands 1×20 over

Thursday:
Incline Barbell Bench 12/12/10/10
Tri-Medi-Ball Pushups 12/12/10/10
Lying DB Tricep XT 8×4
DB Rows 10 x 3
Tricep Pushdowns 8 x 3
Cable Face Pulls 20x
Shoulder Circuit

Friday:
Box Jumps (DB in hands) 6×4
Balance Step-up Power Push 10/10/8/8
Forward Lunge 10/10/8/8 each leg
KB RDL Pendelums 8×3 each leg
Forearms (Curls, Hammers, DB walk)

Core: (pick 4 per workout):
Regular crunches
Starfish
Pike touches
Running mans
Seated twist w/ weight
Oblique w/ weight
Plank
Plank hold on medi-ball
Reach thru’s
Leg lifts/reaches
Wall swings w/ medi ball
Hip to side throws w/ medi ball
Chest / overhead pass w/ medi ball
Ceiling squat throw w/ medi ball

Plyos/Speed (pick 3 plyo/2 speed per workout)

Plyos:
Jump squat
Leap frogs
Shuttle runs
Star touches
Mountain climbers to sprint
Wide-outs
Line jumps
Line back and forths
Split squat jumps
Prisoners w/ twist
Side2side slides w/ 2 balls
Box jumps

Speed:
Steals
l-sprints
sled pulls
partner res
bp 2 sprint

Man, do i feel bad for you! I am not even sure where to start with this program. Let’s take a look at Day 1. With the exception of inverted rows and a shoulder circuit for your lower traps, I would not have my baseball players perform any of those exercises. I am not really too sure what the logic behind day 1 is. From my perspective, it looks like a beach day, which will absolutely have no positive effect on helping you throw harder.

First off, I don’t have my pitchers bench press with a straight bar. From experience, I can tell you including a max effort upper body day for baseball is not all that important. Simply put, benching 315 isn’t going to help you throw the ball harder. I love the bench press, but that doesn’t mean every athlete should be performing it. You need to ask yourself “is this exercise going help me become a better athlete?’. If the answer is no or you even hesitate to answer than it probably shouldn’t be in your program.

Following the barbell bench is an incline dumbbell press. While it isn’t the worst exercise in the world, I much rather have one of my college baseball players doing a push-up variation or an offset dumbbell bench with a neutral grip. Okay, so next on the list is shrugs, curls and skull crushers. These exercises offer very little benefit for baseball players. I much rather see you doing row variations-seated, chest supported, bent over, 1 arm or chin-up variations-preferably with a neutral grip. Training the external rotators are also extremely important. Exercises like face-pulls, reverse flys, external rotation and farmer walks with dumbbells are staples in my program.

I also have a major issue with the “core” exercises in the program. The function of the core is to transmit the power generated form the legs throughout the body and project it onto the ball. Doing any form of spinal flexion or lumbar rotation (russian twists) will not only do nothing for performance but it will also likely lead to lower back pain.

On Day 2 it prescribes Dead Man Hang which is holding the bottom portion of a pull-up. Baseball players should not perform chin-ups to a dead hang as this will cause a ton of stress on the shoulders. Instead they should go as low as possible while keeping the shoulder blades retracted, for most this is right before full extension. On day 3 I would not have my guys do incline barbell bench or any direct triceps work.

Here are my main problems with this program:

1) Every exercise is on the sagital plane

This program looks more like a football program than anything. I gotta admit, I made these mistakes at one time also. It wasn’t until I read Eric Cressey’s  TNation article, What I Learned in 2010, that I understand the importance of doing exercises on the transverse and frontal plane. In a nutshell the sagittal plane consists of strength exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups and power exercises like box jumps, vertical jumps, sprints, broad jumps, olympic lifts etc…While these exercises are important to build a solid foundation of strength, you need to build power and explosiveness in the transverse  plane (rotational) and frontal plane (moving laterally) to have a real carry over to the baseball diamond. My recommendation is to do a ton of rotational medicine ball exercises and lateral jumping and landing exercises.

3)Way too much pushing or pressing exercises (7 for the week)

Personally, my baseball athletes won’t do more than 3 pressing excesses a week, most of the time its even less than this. I just don’t see the benefit in doing any more than that. Any direct triceps work should be omitted. Baseball players already put enough valgus stress on their elbows from throwing, why compound this problem in the gym?

4) Way too much volume

According to this program you will be performing 5-7 strength exercise, 4 core exercises and 3/2 ploy/speed exercises per workout plus your training 4x a week. This is a hell of a lot volume for a college athlete to be doing. Your body has a limited amount of energy and you want to make sure you utilize it wisely. Some sessions should focus on developing power on the transverse plane, other sessions may focus on developing absolute strength in the lower body. From my perspective there really isn’t much balance or goals in this program. It just looks like a bunch of exercises thrown together for the heck of doing it.
While I am all about keeping training as simple as possible, there needs to be a reason to perform each exercise in the program. What is the purpose of benching with a barbell 2x a week or doing 4 core exercises each workout?  Are you just doing it to do it or is there a reason?
Here is a sample workout I have my college baseball guys do:
1A) Shotput Rotational Throws   6 X 4/4
1B) hip flexor mobs
2A) Rotaional med ball slam 3 X 4/4
2B) Wall Slides
3) Trap Bar Deadlift
4)90/90 Split Squat
5) GHR
6A) Anti-Rotaion Press
6B) DB External Rotation

Anti-Rotation Press

Why this workout?

-The medicine ball work is done to help improve power on the transverse plane
-Trap bar deadlifts are a hip dominate movement that will increase lower body strength
-90/90 split squats is a knee dominate movement that will help overcome muscular imbalances caused from baseball and to improve stability in the lower body
-GHR is a hip dominate movement with knee flexion that will strengthen the posterior chain
-Anti-rotation press will help improve core stability-the key to transferring power generated from your legs to your upper body
-DB external rotation is crucial to strength the rotator cuff and the decelerating muscles.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea about how I train my baseball players. If you want to take the guess work out of creating your own program check out RealDealBaseballTraining.com. The Real Deal Baseball System includes a 16 week off season training program AND a 6 week pre-season training program plus a ton of other bonuses.
off season baseball training

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