Grip Training for Baseball

Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball

As a former college baseball player and full time strength coach, I understand the importance of grip training. Grip training is critical to YOUR success as a baseball player. I decided to reach out to the master of grip training, Jedd Johnson, to give my followers the best possible advice when it comes to building Popeye like forearms. Below is a guest post with brother from another mother, Jedd Johnson.  If you are a baseball player looking to reach the next level, be sure to check it out!!

Grip Training For Baseball 

If you’ve been on Joe Meglio’s site for long at all, you know that this guy does not screw around. He means business and he is out-spoken about it.

Just look down at some of the posts below this one and you’ll see he doesn’t pull any punches. He talks about how there is rampant pussification going on in MLB and he doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to telling you how you have to eat if you want to gain muscle.

Joe works with Zach Even-Esh, another straightshooter. I’ve known Zach for years and if Joe has anywhere near as much drive and energy that Zach does, then you better keep an eye on this site if you are a serious baseball player, because Joe is going to tell you how to get shit done right so you can improve on the field.

When Joe came to me and asked if I’d be interested in putting together a guest post for him, I said hell yeah. I like working with people like Joe because that’s how I am. I tell it like it is, even though some people don’t like to hear it. What I want to talk about today is some of the shortcomings I am seeing in baseball strength training programs when I talk with athletes who are currently at the High School and College level.

Weight Training Exercise Selection

I’ve recently taken some looks at programs from High Schools around my area and I must say that some of them are poor at best. First off, these programs are based far too much on isolation types of movements. Far too many of them involve too much bicep curling, tricep kickbacks, machine presses, and other forms of joint isolation movements.

Whatever happened to loading up a bar and performing cleans, presses, jerks, deadlifts, and squats? Baseball is played on your feet, not on a bench or sitting on a machine. Coaches should be spending some time learning how these movements should be done and then making sure that the athletes are doing them correctly. Scared you’ll hurt yourself doing deads, squats, or presses without a spotter because you are using a bar? Fine. Then use dumbbells. Just make sure to include big movements that involve lots of muscles and increase your athelticism, not just movements that isolate single joints and make you less of an athlete.

Weight Training Volume

The programs I am seeing these days look exactly like the ones that were being used when I was in college. I don’t know if they were pulled off the ‘Net and then photocopied or what, but they seem like the same cookie cutter push/pull programs that were used 10 years ago.

Each athlete on the team is different and some are going to be able to handle more volume or less volume than waht is being prescribed in these programs. The coach or strength coach needs to watch this and make adjustments as needed.

Also, volumes and intensities need to be changed throughout the year. There are times of the year for 6 to 8 exercises per workout and other times where only two or three movements should be done. Numbers of repetitions need to be adjusted for times of the year as well. In-season, Post-season, Pre-season – I actually cover this in basic detail for players and coaches to understand in one of my bonuses for Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball, which I released earlier this summer…

Forearm Training

Doesn’t anybody realize that there are hundreds of way to work the forearms and grip besides just doing Wrist Roller, Wrist Curls, and Rice Digs? Solid Forearm and Grip training needs to hit the lower arms from all angles, not just two or three like these exercises. You need to include rotation, deviation, extension, cicumduction as well as direct hand strength work such as crushing and pinching. Grip and Forearm training needs to be varied both in exercise selection and volume, just like the rest off the body does. Take a look at Mark Texeira’s hands when he stands at the plate the next time you have the Yankees on.

When Texeira is waiting for the pitch he is whipping the bat all over the place. It’s a wonder he doesn’t crack his skull open. But this shows you how strong his hands and wrists are. And it pays off in tremendous bat speed. In fact on August 10, 2010 he crushed a homerun off the Red Sox’s Daniel Bard, who throws 95 + MPH.

Texeira has 3 home runs of this guy. Nobody else in the League has more than one off him. We can only speculate about his Grip and Forearm training program, but I’ll bet he is doing more than the Wrist and Rice protocol.

When it comes to forearm training, players need to take into account that it’s not just about having a strong grip and wicked forearms. We have to make the lower arms as resilient against injury as possible, especially from the collisions that are present in the game. Although we aren’t punching people like in a Mixed Martical Arts fight or defending against a lineman like in football, the hands can still take a beating on the ball field. Sliding into a base, diving for a ground ball, and leaping up for a fly ball against the fence can all present hazards to the hands, wrists and forearms.

When training the forearms and grip you also have to think about having balanced strength and preventing imbalances in the lower arms. Doing too much of one thing can lead to imbalances in the lower arms that can cause discomfort and injury down the road. Doing only Wrist Curls, Wrist Roller, and Rice Digs is actually a damn good way to develop imbalances.

Here are some examples of exercises I like to use with my baseball players to have a well balanced Grip Training program.

Thick Bar Work

Axle Work – Great for Open Hand Grip Training

Axle Deadlifts and Thick Dumbbell Lifts placed in once a week will help work the thumb and fingers. These are a moderate investment, but can also be made pretty cheap if you know a good welder.

Thick Rope Work

Thick Rope Works the Hands and Wrists Hard

Thick Ropes are great for more open handed work, plus they work the wrist, forearms, and upper arms. These are expensive but are a great investment for trainers and coaches.

Plate Pinches

Two Hand Plate Pinching – Did I Just Swallow Some Chew Spit???

These can be thrown in very easily as part of a Giant Set, especially if you are working with groups. In most cases you already have plates, so there is no investment here.

Extensor Work

Rubber Bands are Awesome for Extensor Work and You can Do Them Anywhere

I make sure my guys do these every workout for a few sets of 20 extensions. These are very valuable for antagonistic balance and forearm health, and rubber bands are dirt cheap. In fact, I give them rubber bands to take with them to use when they are driving, watching TV, and dropping a deuce.

There are still tons of more ways you can work your grip and forearms effectively, and I show you almost 200 of them in my eBook, Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball. This is your go-to resource for everything associated with the lower arm – not just excercies, but recuperative and recovery strategies, essential stretches, complete warm-ups, and more.

If you are a serious player or if you coach guys that want to make it to the top, there is no better resource for Baseball Players.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below

All the best in your training,


Jedd Johnson is a strength coach in Northeastern PA. Check out his eBook Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball at his new site Advanced Baseball Training.

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Leave A Reply (7 comments so far)

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  • Great Article!! Sledgehammer and sandbag work are also good options for baseball forearm training. Sledgehammer work is kind of obvious. It works the grip/forearm in multiple plains plus works on leverage strength. Sandbags are killer on grip. Their lack of handles strengthens the fingers, not to mention the sand continues to shift in your hands.

  • Excellent points Don. Thanks for your contribution!

  • Brian

    Joe whats your take on in season weight training for my 12U team.

  • Great Article Joe. And anyone looking to increase their forearm strength for baseball should really look into Jedd’s Program. It is solid.

  • Cgoed

    Hey joe. I’m a sophomore in highschool looking to play college baseball. I’m in weight training at my school and we focus on bench, squat and power cleans. I got my bench press up to 240.. I started having shoulder problems and went to see my doctor. He told me I need to stop lifting and only do body weight exercises.. He said I’ve killed my shoulders and slowed my body down and it’s made me less athletic and flexible. You mention that bench is a non isolated technique, while my doctor says its an isolation technique . He told if I want to be a weight lifter keep lifting if I want to be a pitcher I need to stop benching. What r your thoughts?

  • Hey bro, I talked about benching for baseball in the past. Search my blog you will find it.

    In a nutshell I would stick to push-up variations and maybe some neutral grip DB presses if I were you. Its really hard for me to say without working with you.

    Coach Megz