Strength Training for Baseball
Hitting for more power is often misunderstood. The muscles that cause the mammoth homeruns you see are not the arms. The arms are actually much weaker than most of the bigger muscles in your body. The muscles responsible for great power in hitting are the hips and torso. This is why even baseball players can benefit greatly from incorporating variations of Olympic lifts. These movements teach the athlete how to use their hips properly and develop a great deal of explosive strength. The other aspect is great torso strength. I am currently working on an article demonstrating abdominal exercises that will create the type of strength in the abdominals required for sport. In sport, the thicker (not fatter) torso is preferred to dissapate force and to create huge power outputs. Recently, Dr. Mike Hartle wrote a complete series of articles on how to use a sledgehammer to create the torso strength and power that would make most fitness enthusiast shake!
As far as splitting up your program, I suggest you think of movement instead of individual muscle groups. For instance, don’t think when you are going to do your arms. Think of all the exercises that are involved with elbow flexion and extension, this would include all pushing and pulling movements. This also goes for looking at torso and leg work. Instead of thinking of a “six pack”, which is really the result of low bodyfat levels, think of all the motions that are important to strengthening the abdominal wall. This would include trunk flexion, side bending, and rotation. If you only focus on one aspect you are neglecting full training of this region. For leg training you should concentrate on a few movements and their variations. This would mean you focus on hip extension and knee flexion movements. What would this mean? Many exercises such as deadlifts, goodmornings, and all the Olympic lift variations. Knee flexion would include back, overhead, and front squats, lunges (all variations), and single leg squats. These are just a few of the many exercises that would be appropriate for baseball training. Special emphasis should also be placed on upper back work to counteract all the throwing actions.
I like to think of focusing on several core lifts. This would be any Olympic lift, deadlift, squat, even bench presses. The rest of the exercises are supplemental lifts that compliment the needs of the specific sport. This would mean improving certain motor qualities such as explosive strength, speed-strength, or maximal strength. However, remember your program should also incorporate sprint work and range of motion drills. Don’t think one dimensionally as in just the weight room.