Best Baseball Workouts
An effective baseball workout will condition all of the muscles, since baseball uses nearly every part of the body. However, a good plan will also focus on the 3 major areas of speed, explosiveness, and upper body strength.
We’ve selected a few exercises that help in these 3 areas as well as the top 3 workout plans for baseball players.
The fastest way to work on speed is to simply practice speed in short bursts. In baseball, speed in the form of short sprints is more important than endurance, so you want to avoid long, meandering jogs.
<Instead, as we suggest for most athletes, focus on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This training takes the form of short bursts of high speed followed by frequent rest periods.
Here’s a sample of an HIIT working with sprints. For an added challenge, you can try sprinting up hills or carrying a weighted sand bag.
- 5 min. – Warm up by walking at an easy pace
- 3 min. – Increase your speed to a rapid walk to get your heart rate up
- 30 seconds – Sprint as fast as you can
- 4 min. – Return to a moderate, comfortable walking pace
- 30 seconds – Sprint as fast as you can
Continue repeating steps 4 and 5 for a total of 20 minutes. You can gradually increase your sprinting time or lower your resting time for an extra challenge.
Sprinting work can also focus on explosiveness, but we’ve handpicked some exercises for this area, too.
The goal of explosiveness training is to decrease the time it takes for the muscles to achieve maximum force. Even in sprinting, there is a measurement of time between when the athlete starts to move and when they reach their fastest speed. Explosiveness helps you get to the max faster.
One example of a plyometric (jump training) approach is the Frog Squat Jump. You can do this squat-into-jump motion without a weight to get started. Simply squat as low as you can and then explode into a jump with your arms and hands pointed high above your head.
Explosive lifting is a great way to focus on the dead stop to top speed movement needed in baseball while working on muscle strength. However, explosive lifting using barbells and other gym equipment is only safe and effective for athletes who have mastered the proper form and technique for traditional, slower forms of lifting. Do not attempt explosive lifting movements if you are not already a safe, effective lifter. Doing so may risk serious injury. That’s why we recommend jumps with smaller weights and exercises like medicine ball tossing
If you are ready to try the Frog Squat Jump with a weight, stand upright holding one end of a dumbbell vertically with both hands, letting the weight hang down. Slowly squat down until the other end of the dumbbell touches the floor. As soon as you feel the weight touch the floor, jump straight up in the air as fast as you can. Repeat this rep 3 times for 5 or more sets.
For more examples like this, check out Bodybuilding’s 10 Explosive Exercises.
Upper Body Strength
You don’t need to have bulky arms to be a strong, powerful baseball player. In fact, too much bulk can slow you down. Try to focus on achieving efficient motions that use more than one muscle group for maximum power. Here we will focus on the upper body strength needed to throw, pitch, and bat.
This is a move you may have to work up to with normal push-ups, but it is a very effective training method that is much safer than the stress imposed by traditional weight lifting.
This exercise builds on the theme of explosiveness.
Start in a normal push-up position, and then lower your chest to the ground. Using your arms and chest, push off the ground explosively to make your hands leave the floor. The goal is to leave enough room to land on your hands with your arms fully extended, which is the form at the beginning of a push-up. When you get strong enough, you should be able to clap your hands at peak height before separating them and landing with your arms full extended.
For more exercises like these, check out Stack’s strength training for baseball.
Full Workout Plans
If you’re looking for something more structured, there are plenty of options out there endorsed by MLB players. The best and most complete workout plan will still work on speed, explosiveness and upper body strength, but it should also target the lower body and core. Some plans also include basic baseball drills in addition to general gym-based exercises.
Here are a few of our favorites.
David Wright’s Explosive Strength Program
David Wright is a third baseman for the New York Mets. He describes his position as a “reaction position,” so his training necessarily focuses on the explosiveness and reflexes we outlined above.
This is a targeted program with 4 simple but effective exercises that focus on 4 directions of explosive movement.
Each direction is accompanied by a specially coordinated exercise to work on these rapid movements using side throws, Romanian deadlifts, squat jumps and side lunges.
For more details on these moves, check out MLB Player Workouts.
The Off-Season Strength Program
This workout plan is meant for the off-season because it is pretty intense. The goal is to build up muscle strength when there is enough time to rest rather than focusing on strength training right before a big game.
The full body strength workout is only 3 days per week, which allows time for cardio and rest. Try to rest in between the days of this plan.
You’ll focus on legs with squats, curls and extensions; the chest with barbell bench presses; the triceps with lying extensions; and more. Each targeted muscle gets one solid exercise to make the whole plan simpler and faster.
One of the unique features of this workout is that it hits all of the muscles in one workout. This is a great option for intermediate trainees who cannot dedicate an entire day of training to one muscle group without serious fatigue and soreness.
For more details on these strength training exercises, check out Muscle & Strength.
The Alex Rodriguez Workout Routine
This routine focuses on some excellent aspects of an effective workout, including short bursts and sprints and variation to induce “muscle confusion.” This an intense, professional workout plan, but it should give you an idea of different groupings of workouts as well as some specific exercises to try.
Rodriguez described his workout like this:
“On Mondays, it’s a series of 440-, 220-, and 110-yard sprints, never more than a mile at a time. (When you run long distances, you start getting slower.) On Tuesdays: Sandpit workout and Stair Sprints. On Wednesdays: 18 straight 110-yard dashes. On Thursdays: Uphill runs. On Fridays: High-speed Plyometric movements, to build muscle. On Weekends: Spinning class or, come January, Batting cage”
A-Rod mapped out the specifics for each day, with a typical Monday looking as follows. Of course, most athletes will prefer to spread out this series of muscle groups over a few days.
A series of 440, 220, and 110 yard sprints
30 minutes on a stationary bike
300 abdominal crunches
Hammer-Strength Grip Machine
Dumbbell Wrist Curl
Core Strength Machine
Gymnastics Ring Hang
Want more structured work outs?
If you’re still looking for a detailed plan with specific days and exercises with planned rep and set numbers, check out the two winning user-designed baseball workout plans on BodyBuilding. Each of the winning plans includes incredible detail and directions.
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