Many baseball pitchers are constantly looking for ways to improve their game. Adding speed to your fastball is one of the best ways to do this as it increases your chances of striking out even the best of batters. Many people assume that the best way to get that speed is to go all out on upper body workouts, but they are incorrect. Consider pitchers like Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw. Their status is just about legendary, and you can achieve similar pitch quality with right workouts. However, you need to focus on more than just your arms to reach that goal.
According to Chang Lee, who is a performance manager at EXOS, mobility and stability are the two most important ingredients in successful pitching. Mobility and stability are most important in your hips and shoulders. Along with those fundamentals, upper and lower body strength are important. If this seems like a weird tactic to you, consider the technique used in pitching. The power doesn’t come from just your arms. Most of the strongest muscles in the body are found in the legs, and this is the reason that pitching is done the way it is. The idea is to transfer the power from your legs and to allow it to explode from your arms. Excelling on the mound and decreasing the likelihood of becoming injured both depend heavily on working all the areas that factor into your pitch. These areas include not only your throwing arm, shoulders, and back, but also your hamstrings, your hips, and your legs.
It is commonly believed that pitching speed can be determined based on isolated muscle strength. The muscles in question are the biceps and triceps. However, pitching is a compound movement, which means it is proportional with arm speed, as opposed to any muscles. Therefore, it is recommended that pitchers stay focused on pillar strength. The pillar is the entire area that lies between your shoulder s and your hips. To do so, you must do lower body strength work, shoulder stability workouts, and various propulsive exercises that improve on your rotational power. The idea is to create a solid kinetic link throughout the body, arm, and pillar. This combination leads to an effective whip-like motion, which is ideal for getting the ball moving as fast as possible.
Lee also indicates that your range of motion is another crucial factor in your ability to pitch quickly. He states that strength and power are adversely affected by mobility limitations. You can visualize this by thinking of an athlete as a car with a high powered V12 engine. Such an engine gives the has the potential to accelerate quickly and reach a high maximum speed. Now imagine if there was a transmission issue affecting the vehicle that prevented it from ascending past first gear. Its speed output becomes severely limited even with all the power the engine can give. Now imagine that there is another less powerful athlete that is comparable to a vehicle with a V6 engine. Clearly, this athlete’s engine doesn’t have the same kind of potential. However, full mobility means that it is possible to cycle through all gears effectively. So, even with a weaker engine, more speed is achieved in this regard.
Below is an identification and explanation of several exercises that are perfect for increasing pitching speed and arm power. The idea is to improve mobility, upper body strength, lower body strength, stability, and rotational movements.
90/90 Stretch and Arm Sweep
For the first exercise, your goal is to do three sets of eight reps on each side. You may rest for anywhere between 45 – 120 between each set.
To get into the starting position, begin by laying flat on your back. Bend your right knee and cross your left leg over the top of your right leg. Now, roll to the side of the bent knee as you bring said knee towards the ground. It is recommended that you cushion the area between your knee and the ground by using a pad or a towel. Next, put your left arm in a position that is parallel to your leg. Following this, rotate your top arm and your chest out. This should put your arm in a position that is straight over your head when done correctly. This is the starting position.
Move your arm in a sweeping motion towards your butt by bring it out and then down your body’s right side. Repeat this motion until you have reached the desired number of reps. After this, switch sides and do the same.
This exercise is geared towards improving both the flexibility and the mobility of your shoulders. Furthermore, it allows you to effectively stretch your torso, upper back, and middle back. Do your best to keep your knees together throughout the movement and exhale as you stretch. According to Lee, a tight shoulder joint compromises your mobility. This means that you cannot get a proper rotation during your cocking phase, which is necessary to generate the torque needed for high-velocity throwing.
Hip Extension Rotation Using the Rotation Bench
For this exercise, aim for three sets of eight reps on each arm/leg. You may rest for 45 to seconds between each set.
An inclined bench is a must for this workout. Begin by lifting your right leg and rotating it at the hip. If done correctly, your shin should be in front of you. Ensure our right knee is situated on the bench. Your left foot is to stay behind you on the floor. Put your hands together and place them at the top of the bench as you lean your torso forward. This is your starting position. From here, straighten your right arm and move it behind you. Ensure you hold this position for a second before returning to your starting position. Complete the required number of reps then switch sides and do the same.
The point of this workout is to activate and open your hips while increasing the mobility and flexibility of your shoulders and rotator cuffs.
According to Lee, the exercise allows for a proper stretch of both the front and the back of the hips. He indicates that with a lack of good mobility, you can move no more than your body allows you to. For example, if you have a tight hip joint, your power and strength are adversely affected. This is because your leg drive is decreased, and your stride length is reduced.
You may not have access to a rotation bench for this workout. If that is the case, feel free to substitute the exercise for a seated stride stretch. Throw in a hip external rotation move as well. Start by placing your left leg in front of you and bending it at your knee. Your front foot should face the right side of your body. Ensure that the right leg is pointed straight back and that your hands are placed on the ground shoulder-width apart.
Now lower your body as you extend your arms in front of you as you set them on the ground. Hold that position for a couple of seconds, then return to your starting position.
For this exercise, you should aim for three sets of 15 reps for each of the three movements. You may rest for between 45 and 120 seconds between your sets.
Before the explanation begins, note that this exercise consists of three different moves. They are known as the “Y,” the “T,” and the “W.” Also, you need an exercise ball for this workout.
For the “Y” move, place your torso/hips on the exercise ball and lean over it. Ensure that your legs are kept straight back as you do. Your arms should then be extended towards the ground as they form a Y shape. This should result in a 45-degree angle with your body. Align your palms so that they face each other. This is your starting position. Raise your arms to your head and then return them to said starting position for the designated number of reps.
The “T” is the next move to be done. Like you did with the “Y,” place your hips on the exercise ball and ensure you keep your legs straight back. Move your arms to the side and hold them in a manner that forms a “T” shape. Raise the arms to your head, which should allow you to feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for a second then return to your starting position. Repeat this for the required number of reps.
The “W” is the final move to complete this exercise. Again, keep your legs straight back as you place your hips/torso on the exercise ball. This time, you should bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle with your fists pointed forward. This is your starting position. Raise your arms to your head and hold it when you get there for a second. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement for the designated number of reps.
These moves are great for working the deltoid muscles while they increase your shoulder strength. The front, middle, and rear deltoids are all hit by this workout. Lee states that you work on core strengthening, shoulder stability increase, and a better range of motion by doing this workout.
Shoulder External Rotation
For this exercise, the target is three sets of 15 reps on each arm. As usual, you may rest for 45 – 120 seconds between your sets.
Begin by standing in front of a cable pulley machine. Stand in a way that allows the left side of your body to face the machine. Ensure the cable is at hip level then grab it with your outside hand, which is your right in this case. This should form a right angle and is your starting position. From here, rotate your right arm away from your body, then bring it back to your starting position. Your elbow must be kept at your side throughout the movement. Repeat as necessary until you get to the designated number of reps.
The purpose of this move is to promote shoulder stability and to strengthen your rotator cuff. By increasing your shoulder strength, the risk of injury is reduced.
The same rep range applies here of 15 for three sets. Rest time between each set is 45 to 120 seconds. You need a TRX strap to do this workout.
Use the TRX strap and put your hands in the suspension system. Align your legs the same way you do for regular pushups. This is the starting position. From here, bring the straps together and raise your body while maintaining a pushup position. Return to your starting position and repeat the workout until you hit the designated number of reps.
The TRX’s resistance allows you to strengthen your core and engage various muscle groups. It also allows you to increase your shoulder strength and stability. As you do this workout, try to keep your thighs tight and engage your core. This allows for the maximum effect on both your upper body and your shoulders.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Row
For this workout, you are aiming for three sets of 10 reps on each side with 45 to 120 rest between each set. A weight that is comfortable should be used.
Begin by bending over at the waist and bending your left leg in front of you. Extend your right leg back as you hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Place your arm in a hanging position where it points straight downwards. Now bring the weight up as you push your elbow towards the ceiling. Complete the designated number of reps before switching to the other hand.
This workout is important for upper body strength. It targets areas such as your lats, your biceps, your hips, your shoulders, and your upper back. Feel free to grip a high surface or a bench with your free arm to help with you with your balance during the exercise.
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