Creating Power in the Swing – Part 2

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

Power in the Swing Top

In Part 1 of this article (click here) we discussed different phases of the swing and how they need to be trained with different methods in the weight room. Today, we’ll take a brief look at how we do that. This is an integral part of our hitting programs.

1. Strength

When you’ve got a great foundation of strength, putting force into the ground (power) happens, and with that so does athleticism. This will help shed some light as to why our strength training programs are at the forefront of our Hitters Rx (click here) and Exit Velo Programs (click here).  Much like training speed, we need to first work on getting strong and then learn to apply that new strength rapidly into the ground and up through your swing into your bat as the season nears.

In the early off-season is when we train for absolute strength for ball players. This is when we need to put on some size muscle-wise, as well as strengthening the prime movers (glutes/hamstrings/lats) to be able to really crush the ball. Training explosiveness at this point would be a bit premature as we have yet to develop maximum strength to be explosive with. Let’s get these “big guys” stronger first.

(LaManna Deadlift)

(1-arm DB Row)

2. Power/Explosiveness

Later in the off-season, once we’ve established a solid base of strength, we can start working on training techniques to increase power and explosiveness.  Without this crucial 2nd half of the strength equation maximum exit velocity simply will not happen.  I mean just because you can deadlift 3x’s your body weight doesn’t mean you’re going to be explosive at the plate.

Fat Deadlifter

When the time comes to train explosiveness, it’s more about how quickly you can lift that weight. This brings us to…

Rate of Force Development (RFD) – While getting strong is a given in any sport, how quickly we can apply that newly acquired strength (power) is what separates good from great bat speed. The quicker you can produce force the harder and faster you’ll swing.

(Dynamic Cable lift)

By working at lower intensity/bar speeds (10-30% 1 rep max / 1.0-2.0 m/s), we can decrease an athlete’s time to achieve peak rate of force development (RFD). Using a lighter load will allow the athlete to produce higher forces in shorter periods of time, and therefore create a more rapid transfer of force from the ground up through the kinetic chain (leg, pelvis, core, shoulder, arm).  This will increase their explosiveness and in turn have a direct effect on exit velo.   A quicker unloading phase will also allow them more time to decide if they’re going to swing or not.

(Deadlift Triples)

Unfortunately, there are still many coaches that still believe that a fast and powerful swing cannot be taught.  Well, I disagree, whether it’s pitching velocity or exit velo coming off a bat I KNOW it can be taught as we have proven this many times over.

With the use of VBT (velocity-based training), we now can coach and train “Rate of Force” production in the weight room completely putting that myth to rest.  We’ve been utilizing it here at RPP with great results.  Velocity based training uses bar speed as external (visual) cueing to let the athlete know how explosive he should be as well as manage volume on days when he may not be quite up to snuff. This will allow him to train as explosively as he should while avoiding both overtraining as well as undertraining. Depending upon the athlete and the exercise, bar speeds can vary anywhere between 1.0-2.0 m/s when training for explosiveness.

Power in the Swing Bottom

Bottom line, in addition to cleaning up really poor swing mechanics, generating more bat speed will be an uphill battle unless you get strong first and apply more force (strength) into the ground and then apply it quickly (power) up through the kinetic chain and into your bat.

See ya’ in the gym…

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