Home Posts tagged "baseball strength and conditioning" (Page 6)

Weight Training for Baseball: Featured Articles

I really enjoy writing multi-part features here at EricCressey.com because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it's like writing a book.  Here were three noteworthy features I published in 2010: Understanding Elbow Pain - Whether you were a baseball pitcher trying to prevent a Tommy John surgery or recreational weightlifter with "tennis elbow," this series had something for you. Part 1: Functional Anatomy Part 2: Pathology Part 3: Throwing Injuries Part 4: Protecting Pitchers Part 5: The Truth About Tennis Elbow Part 6: Elbow Pain in Lifters

Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture - This series was published more recently, and was extremely well received.  It's a combination of both quick programming tips and long-term modifications you can use to eliminate poor posture. Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 1 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 2 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 3 Strategies for Correcting Bad Posture: Part 4

A New Paradigm for Performance Testing - This two-part feature was actually an interview with Bioletic founder, Dr. Rick Cohen.  In it, we discuss the importance of testing athletes for deficiencies and strategically correcting them.  We've begun to use Bioletics more and more with our athletes, and I highly recommend their thorough and forward thinking services. A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 1 A New Paradigm for Performance Testing: Part 2 I already have a few series planned for 2011, so keep an eye out for them!  In the meantime, we have two more "Best of 2010" features in store before Friday at midnight. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Should Pitchers Bench Press?

Q: One of my favorite (insert generic sarcastic look here) things to watch in the weightroom is my pitchers getting under the rack for bench presses.  It's not the fact that they're benching that upsets me, but the "Beach Body" mindset that is behind it.  What's the most efficient way for a pitcher to work on his bench, and more importantly, what should he be trying to gain by performing the bench press correctly?

A: Okay, let's get right to opening this can of worms.

can-of-worms

With any exercise, we look for carryover to the functional demands of our sport.  However, we accept that general strength gains transfer in most cases.  As an example, we know that we can improve throwing velocity with a variety of training initiatives, but training specificity like this is stupid:

Now that we've all gotten a bit dumber, let's continue...

As it relates to pitching, the fundamental problem with the conventional barbell bench press (as performed correctly, which it normally isn't) is that it doesn't really train scapular movement effectively.  When we do push-up variations, the scapulae are free to glide - just as they do when we pitch.  When we bench, though, we cue athletes to lock the shoulder blades down and back to create a great foundation from which to press.  It's considerably different, as we essentially take away most (if not all) of scapular protraction.

Additionally, the closed-chain nature of push-ups is much more shoulder friendly, even if pitching is an open-chain exercise.  In fact, most rehabilitation progressions - regardless of the shoulder issue in question - will begin with push-up variations before any open-chain pressing exercises.

With dumbbell benching, we recognize that we get better range-of-motion, freer movement of the humerus (instead of being locked into internal rotation), and increased core activation - particularly if we're doing alternating DB presses or 1-arm db presses.  There is even a bit more scapular movement in these variations (even if we don't actually coach it).

With a barbell bench press, you don't really get any of these benefits - and it's somewhat inferior from a range-of-motion standpoint.  While it may allow you to jack up the weight and potentially put on muscle mass a bit more easily, the truth is that muscle mass here - particularly if it leads to restrictions in shoulder and scapular movement - won't carry over to throwing the way the muscle mass in the lower half and upper back will.  I've seen a ton of guys with loads of external rotation and horizontal abduction range-of-motion throw the crap out of the baseball, but can't say that I've ever seen any correlation - in the research or my anecdotal experience - between a good bench press and throwing velocity.

wagner2

That said, I recognize that there are still a lot of "wannabe meatheads" in the pitching world, so we do our best to meet our athletes halfway and please the bench press gods. Most of the time, dumbbell bench pressing and push-up variations will be sufficient, but we will sometimes us the multipurpose bar with our pitchers because it puts them in a more shoulder-friendly neutral grip.

Add some chains to the bar, and you have a great stabilization challenge that works the true function of the rotator cuff.

That said, if you absolutely feel like you need to do traditional benching, keep the volume down, keep the elbows tucked, and keep the shoulder blades stable underneath you.  And, be sure to recognize that your ego probably isn't doing much for your success on the mound - as there are training initiatives with better returns on investment.  Remember that pitchers have loads of competing demands - from throwing, to mobility training, to soft tissue work, to fielding practice, to movement training - so what you do in the weight room has to highly effective to justify its inclusion.  I just struggle to consider bench pressing "highly effective" for pitchers.

 

For more information on managing throwing shoulders, be sure to check out the Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set.

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