Off Season Training for Baseball

off season workouts for baseball

Question:
I’m 19 and I’m just about fully recovered from a shoulder injury that kept me from working out since February and as a result of that I’ve gained about 15-20 lbs of bad weight that I want to lose so I can get my speed, quickness and agility back for baseball since I play the outfield. How should I set up my own workouts (that I would do at the local Gold’s Gym) to achieve total body/core strength and still maintain proper muscle balance to improve my performance on the baseball field without suffering any injuries to the rotator cuff area? — -Brian

Brian, first off thank you for sending in your question. Without knowing the specifics of your injury, your physical preparation or your current ability level, it will be hard for me to give a specific program to follow. However, what I can do for you is show you the system I use to create baseball BEASTS and specific steps you should take to set up your own workouts.

1) Build a Strong and Powerful Lower Body

Your lower body is your horsepower. The more horsepower you have, the more potential you will have to hit the ball further, run faster and throw harder. Exercises like squats and deadlifts should be staples in your program. I would dedicate one day a week to a front squat variation and another day to the deadlift, preferably the trap bar deadlift. Try to avoid back squatting because it forces your shoulders into external rotation which will only compound your shoulder problems. Front squats or squats with the safety bar are perfect substitutions. Train these lifts heavy, BUT just make sure you are using proper technique.

Unilateral exercises like lunges, step-ups and split squat variations should be staples in your program. These type of exercises will help you overcome muscular imbalances caused from baseball and will help you improve stability in the lower body. Remember, the more stable you are on one leg, the more stable you will be on two. These types of exercises should compliment your squat and deadlift.

Other exercises that strengthen the glutes, lower back, hamstrings and posterior chain should also be staples in your program. Some examples of these exercises include glut ham raises, back extensions, dumbbell swings, Romanian Deadlifts (barbell or dumbbell) and barbell glute bridges.

baseball workouts
2) Build a Stable Core

Now that you are increasing the horsepower in your lower body, you need to build a stable core to transfer this horsepower throughout your body to effectively improve your hitting power, running speed and throwing velocity.  Let’s use your swing for example- the hips and thighs generate power, then the core transmits this power throughout your body and redirects it to the ball. This same example can be applied to throwing the ball from the outfield for a play at the plate. During the crow hop , the legs and hips generate the power and the core transmits this power throughout the body and redirects it to the ball. If your core is weak, your body will not be able to transfer all of your horsepower generated from your legs effectively.

In order to improve core stability, I really like Mike Robertson’s approach.  You need to start ditching sit-ups, side bends, Russian twists and most exercises that require spinal flexion or lumbar rotation. Instead you need to improve your body’s ability to resist rotation, resist extension as these will improve core stability. Examples of these exercises include barbell or swiss ball rollouts, 1 arm dumbbell carries, anti-rotation presses and offset dumbbell caries. For more information on core training, check out Mike Robertson’s article on TNation, 21st Century Core Training.

baseball workouts
3) Upper Body Training Considerations

This stuff can get pretty controversial but remember the first goal of any training program is injury prevention and the second goal is performance. For these reasons I have found that there are certain exercises that the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward. If an exercise isn’t going to improve your performance, it should not be in your program.Avoid these exercises:
  • Straight Bar Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Side/front raises
  • Upright rows

Instead do these exercises:

  • Dumbbell Bench Press with Neutral Grip
  • Push-up Variations (weighted, decline, close grip, TRX, plyo)
  • Chin-ups (preferably with neutral grip)
  • Rows (1 arm, chest supported, seated, bent over)
  • Upper Back work (dumbbell carries, reverse cable flyes, cable external rotation, side-lying external rotation)
4) Focus on becoming efficient in the transverse and frontal planes

For awhile I was guilty of doing most power exercises in the sagittal plane. After speaking with Eric Cressey and reading his article, What I learned in 2010, I realized that I needed to cut back on the amount of  power exercises on the sagittal plane and start incorporating more rotational medicine ball exercises and lateral jumps. 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. This means performing a ton of rotational medicine ball exercises and lateral jumping and landing exercises. The best resource on these type of exercises is Eric Cressey’s YouTube channel. Not only does he have a ton of medicine ball exercises on there, but they are all free!
baseball workouits
5) Do corrective exercise to prevent injuries

Corrective exercises should not be the meat and potatoes of your program and quite frankly I am sick of baseball players being treated like physical therapy patients. With this said, there is a time and place for corrective exercise and it should be a small part of your program to keep you healthy and to help prevent injury.Without accessing you, I can’t tell you exactly what flexibility and mobility drills you need to focus on,  but  what I can tell you is that 90% of the baseball players I train have the same restrictions. First off, you need to be doing some sort of foam rolling and soft tissue work.  Next, pick a few drills each workout that focus on improving hip mobility, thoracic spine mobility, ankle mobility. Thoracic spine mobility and scapula stability will be key to keeping your shoulder healthy. Check out this article with a ton of drills you can incorporate into your warm-up and in-between your sets to help you stay healthy.
foam rolling for baseball6) Step Up Your Nutrition

The reason why you have lost some speed, quickness and agility is because your relative body strength has decreased due to your increase in unwanted weight. The easiest and best way to increase your relative bodyweight aside from training is to get serious about your nutrition. If you are a serious athletes, there is no excuse for not fueling your body properly. While nutrition could be an article by itself, I’ll just give you a few tips to get you back on track:
  • Cut out any refined and processed foods you are eating. If it doesn’t grow in the ground you probably shouldn’t be eating it. So load up on fruits, veggies, potatoes, nuts and seeds.
  • Only drink water. Water is critical to proper hydration. Without proper hydration, your performance and recovery will tank so make sure you are drinking like a fish
  • Eat plenty of protein.  I am not a protein guy by any means but most athletes I know do not eat enough of it. Start eating more chicken, meat, fish, eggs and on occasion a solid protein powder.
  • Eat clean 90% of the time. Consistency is the key to everything. You can’t just turn it on and off as you want or just do it when it is convenient for you. If you want to optimize your performance and take your game to the next level you need to be consistent!
Hopefully this gives you some insight to what you should be doing to improve your performance on the baseball field. I have laid out complete off season system designed for baseball players. The great thing about this program is all the guess work is taken out for you and all you have to do is follow the program. For more information on The Real Deal Baseball Training system check out RealDealBaseballTraining.com.
P.S
If you are in the New Jersey area this Saturday, November 5th, I will be hosting a FREE Real Deal Baseball Training Seminar that will cover all of this and much much more! Just Drop a comment below if your interested and I’ll hook you up with the details 🙂
real deal baseball

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