Getting the right weight room regimen can significantly improve a game on the mound. Pitching is one of the most physically taxing positions in all of sports. The high velocity movements and full body repetitive motions required by the position, make it critical to get the right weight routine for the pre-season and season.
Frequency Per Week
Pre-season routines should include weightlifting three times per week and should start several months prior to the first practice to allow enough time for muscle development. Karl Kuhn, pitching coach for the number one ranked University of Virginia baseball team, points out that starters should lift within 48 hours of a start, and get a second, light lift, in on day four after a start. Kuhn's relievers hit the weights two to three times per week, but never on or before a throwing day.
Reps and Sets
Coach Kuhn has his staff, which has garnered the top ERA in the country over the last six years, perform three sets of moderate weight at 15 repetitions during the season--designed to be in line with the projected number of pitches per inning.
Many pitchers, to their surprise, actually have much weaker shoulders on their throwing side. Pitchers must include a moderate intensity shoulder routine as many as five times per week. Perform two sets of 12 repetitions of exercises including shrugs, lateral shoulder raise, front shoulder raise, suprispinatus shoulder raises, overhead dumbbell press, and internal and external rotator cuff exercises. Never use heavy weight and focus on form and moving the weight in a controlled motion at all times.
Jeff Kamrath, former professional right-handed pitcher and current pitching instructor, often sees younger pitchers with poor abdominal strength, which is a limiting factor in performance. The Virginia Cavaliers' pitching staff integrates connective tissue chords along with core body work five times a week throughout the season according to Coach Kuhn.
Include a full body stretching routine twice a week. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds or longer. It is critical to stretch properly, with the correct force and time, to increase plastic elongation of soft tissue. The American Council on Exercise suggests using a static stretch of low force, and holding that stretch for an extended period of time (greater than 30 seconds).
- Jeff Kamrath; senior advisor of baseball operations; Prospects Sports Training
- American Council on Exercise ACE Personal Training Manual 3rd Edition; 2007
- Karl Kuhn; Head Pitching Coach; University of Virginia