Get maximum training results for baseball with a new twist on common chest exercises
Avoid the Bench Press, Get Uneven for Best Chest Exercises for Baseball
Chest exercises are always appealing due to the vanity results we get when looking in the mirror. But when doing them off-balance, we're creating exercises that are perfect for hitters and pitchers.
Whether you're swinging the bat or throwing the ball, there's a weight transfer involved from back foot to front foot, and a rotation to go with it. We'll mimic the off balance nature of a swing or a throw by creating uneven angles in our chest exercises, which also has the added benefit of engaging the core, which as we've already seen, has tremendous benefit to both hitting and throwing.
Plyometrics are explosive, bursty movements designed to dramatically increase power. We first encountered plyometrics for jump training as a means of developing leg strength. Now, instead of jumping with our legs, we'll get off the ground using our chest to fuel this explosive exercise.
Why plyometrics? Whether you're hitting or throwing, it's a very short burst of maximum force; so we'll integrate that into our exercises.
5 sets of 3-5 repititions:
- Get into a pushup position, body in a straight plank from your shoulders to your feet.
- Lower your chest to within an inch of the ground, keeping your body in plank, elbows close to your body.
- Push off the ground as hard as you can, attempting to push so hard that your hands leave the ground.
- Brace yourself for a soft landing and return to start position.
- For beginners, we can do these pushups vertically or on an angle, pushing off a wall or off some stairs to develop the muscle groups necessary to perform this exercise.
- For intermediates, we can do the pushups from our knees, which is effectively lightening the load, reducing the amount of body weight that our chest needs to push off the ground.
- For advanced athletes, try to push off the ground high enough to allow time to clap your hands in mid air.
Medicine Ball Pushups
Remember that medicine ball we were using for the core workout? We're going to use it again. If you don't have a medicine ball, use a stool or a step, anything that's 6-12 inches off the ground.
By changing the height of one of our hands, we're creating the off-balance exercise that's perfect for baseball, activating the stabilizer muscles in our shoulders, chest, and core as well as increasing the range of motion on our pecs.
3 sets of 10-15 repititions:
- Get into a pushup position, with one hand on the floor, the other on the medicine ball, body in a straight plank from your shoulders to your feet.
- Lower your chest to within an inch of the ground, keeping your body in plank.
- Push yourself back up to starting position.
- Bring the hand that was on the floor to the ball, so that you now have both hands on the ball, your body still in plank.
- Switch sides, putting the hand that was on the ball when you started down onto the floor.
- Perform a pushup on this side.
- Upon completion of the pushup, bring both hands back onto the ball.
- This is one rep. Yes, one very difficult rep. Repeat 10-15 times, or until reaching full fatigue.
- To make the exercise easier, start out by just doing the pushup on one side then switching to the other, doing 5 sets of 5 reps per side.
- As strength builds, achieve the explosiveness of a swing or throw by pushing off the ground hard enough to switch sides of the ball without both hands being on the ball at the same time.
- As your stability improves, add additional imbalance by lifting one leg during the exercise.
- Instead of a medince ball, we could also do two handed pushups, placing our hands on an exercise ball or BOSU ball to create the imbalance of the exercise.
Dumbbell Chest Exercises
Traditional chest exercises still have a place in baseball training, but remember what we've been preaching throughout this article: create imbalance to activate more muscles and get better results for baseball.
How do we create imbalance? Avoid the bar, replace it with dumbbells.
Rather than describe exercises you likely already know, we'll just list some of the best traditional chest exercises that you should mix into your routine.
- Dumbbell chest press.
- Dumbbell incline chest press.
- Dumbbell decline chest press.
- Dumbbell chest fly.
- Alternate using one hand at a time in addition to using both hands at the same time.
- Use an exercise ball instead of a bench.
The main thing to remember as we're doing chest exercises is that we need to be careful not to strain our shoulders. To prevent injury to that most critical joint, see the article dedicated to the shoulder.
Until next time, Play Ball!