By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)
When many young athletes start picking up the baseball in January they put the weights down. Nothing could have a more negative effect on the athletes conditioning come the beginning of the season. Let me explain.
Different aspects of strength are trained at different times of the year depending upon where you are in your season. This concept applies to every sport. I call it the Strength-Speed Continuum and it looks like this:
For more on this topic please click here.
For baseball players, during November/December when most are shut down (or should be), our focus is absolute strength, in other words, getting strong (the left hand side of the above spectrum). Most young athletes respond well to strength training because of the fact that they have never done it, so their bodies are like sponges ready to “soak it up”. For example, the average increase in strength on the Trap Bar Deadlift for our athletes this past November/December was nearly 40%.
Now, in January with bullpens and BP beginning to get ramped up, we need to start working on getting more explosive so we move a little further right on the above Continuum. If you’re not familiar with my philosophy on this topic, I’ll repeat myself:
Strength is the Foundation for Getting Explosive!!
Strength/Speed (January): In January, we will be learning how to take the strength we gained in November and December and put it into the ground, creating more explosive movements. Reps in the weight room go up (generally 8-10 reps) and volume (intensity and sets) are reduced. Explosive strength circuits are also introduced. As far as cuff work and arm health are concerned, I believe in “addition by subtraction”. For example, the act of throwing a baseball in itself is strength training for the cuff. It also helps increase arm speed, so in January when long toss and bullpens begin, manual cuff work and med ball volume is reduced and they become more specific to the sport. Weighted ball decels are added in their place.
(Med Ball Double Plays)
(Weighted Ball Decels)
Speed/Strength (February): February moves us over even further to the right on the Continuum as we approach the final weeks of off-season training and get the athlete ready to begin their next season. Conditioning drills and movements more specific to the sport begin to replace more traditional strength movements such as deadlifts and bilateral squatting. Weighted complexes (a series of exercises performed in sequence without stopping to replace the heavier intensity sets in the weight room) as well as multi-directional sprint work (notice I didn’t say long distance running) are added to the program. Also, since throwing is ramped up outside the weight room, rapid med ball throws are done on the non-dominant side only to help create a little more symmetry. Throws involving rapid elbow extension are also removed from the program, while explosive circuits are ramped up.
(Split Stance Low Band Row w/Rotation)
(Half-Kneeling Trunk Flexion)
By stopping strength training in January, practically all strength gains made in November and December will be lost by the time the spring season begins. The same goes for an athlete who waits until January to get ready for spring training. As a result, both will walk on the field unprepared.
See ya’ in the gym.