Hey baseball fans!
Certain baseball Hall of Famers happen to be very well known for their physical skills. Nolan Ryan had a cannon arm, Rickey Henderson had super-strong legs, and Hank Aaron had powerful wrists. I decided to try to find out if there were certain exercises that baseball players could do to work on improving these parts of their bodies, so I approached noted personal trainer and sports conditioning expert, Galen Pass (twitter @G_Code388) of JD Fitness in Livingston, NJ for his Hall of Fame workout tips and here's what he had to say:
Nolan Ryan pitched in the league for 27 years. For young pitchers looking forward to long careers, rotator cuff health is essential. We hear the term “rotator cuff” used frequently when describing shoulder injuries incurred by athletes, but most do not know what it actually is. The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that attach from areas on the shoulder blade into different parts of the shoulder joint. These muscles control the joint’s ability to rotate through the motion of a pitch and help to stabilize the shoulder. Some basic rotator cuff exercises with a resistance band can help a young athlete strengthen, stabilize, and improve mobility of the shoulder joint. Make sure you choose the appropriate resistance band for you.
Perform the following exercises 2-3 times a week for 15 repetitions each in order of succession:
Internal Rotation, External Rotation, Internal Rotation (shoulder abducted 90 degrees)
External Rotation (shoulder abducted 90 degrees)
*note: you may need a lighter band for external rotation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_zilegpVwY - band exercise
Rickey Henderson, known as “The Man of Steal”, created a reputation for himself with his speed, quickness, and reaction time when it came to stealing bases. When a new sports car is being advertised, a standard measure of performance is how fast it can go from 0 to 60. With only 90 feet to between bases, there is not much space for a runner to gain speed. Similar to how we judge a car’s performance, speed of acceleration is the determinate factor between being one base closer to scoring or one out closer to the end of the inning. First, an athlete needs a foundation in general speed/sprint training. Once this is established, acceleration can be further improved upon by performing uphill sprints and other forms of resisted sprinting. i.e. – parachute sprints (wind resistance), band resisted sprints that produce explosive hip drive.
Find a hill (approximately 150-200 feet long) with a 10-20 degree incline in a nearby park or on a quiet street. Warm up with a 5 minute jog and some dynamic stretching. Then perform 10 hill sprints, using the walk/jog back from each sprint as a recovery period. Make sure you stretch your legs after the sprints (quads, hamstrings, hip flexors). Increase sprint repetitions by 2 each week.
Perform 2-3 times a week for 5 weeks – After all 5 weeks are completed, look for a steeper hill!
Week 1 – 10 sprints, Week 2 – 12 sprints, Week 3 – 14 sprints, Week 4 – 16 sprints, Week 5 – 18 sprints
*To track results, time yourself through each workout and compare the first 10 sprints each week
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI58jyYgaok - hill sprints
Hank Aaron was an incredible power hitter during his 21 year career. This invaluable ability to crank out home runs is a product of many different physiological factors; strong legs, explosive hips & abs, grip strength, great reaction time, and the list goes on. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on developing an explosive core and improving grip strength.
First, the core (abs, hips, low back, glutes) needs to be strong and stable. Planks, back bridges, and supermans will create a basic foundation, while resistance band swings will improve rotational force.
Perform the following exercise routine 2-3 times per week:
Back Bridge: 15 x 3 seconds each
Plank: 1 minute (increase by 15 seconds each week)
Supermans: 15 x 3 seconds each
Band Swings: 15 each side (increase band resistance as needed) 1 minute rest between sets
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIJ2rcEsaUc – superman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Sil1iwIo6I – band swings
Next, all of the force generated by the body is manifested through the hands and into the bat. Having strong hands, wrists, and forearms will ensure that it will be a solid hit every time you connect with the ball. You will need a wrist roller (which can be purchased online), weight platesfor the roller (2 ½ lbs each, 10 - 15 lbs total), a bucket, and a good amount of rice.
Perform the follow exercises 2-3 times per week:
Wrist Rolls (start with 2 ½ lbs and move up in weight if necessary)
Flexion (rolling forward) – up and down twice
45 seconds rest
Extension (rolling backward) – up and down twice
Perform 2 sets of each
Rice Bucket Exercise
Finger Flicks – 30 seconds
Digs - 30 seconds
Perform 3 sets of each with 1 minute of rest after each round
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bef0ETbvLLw – wrist roller
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0At9BvISa8&feature=related – rice bucket exercises
This blog post gives a few exercises that can help young athletes improve upon specific attributes that these iconic former players are known for. All exercises listed above should be incorporated into a well designed and supervised strength & conditioning program. Nutrition, proper rest, and recovery are also paramount to maximizing any training regimen. Here's a picture of Galen - he's a big dude, so you better listen to what he has to say.