medicine ball, baseball, workout

In Defense of Baseball Players

Sluggers are not slugs—this is their intense workout secret.

Baseball gets a bad rep in terms of physical fitness: slow jogs to first base, long innings spent standing in center field, pitchers with beer bellies.

In the fitness industry, there are many misconceptions about the sport, says Tim Geromini, C.S.C.S., a strength and conditioning coach at Cressey Performance, who regularly works with professional baseball players. “Baseball has historically not been looked at as a sport that trains with the same intensity as others.”

But Geromini takes a contrarian’s view: “Baseball players are extremely hard workers,” he says. Don’t believe him? Take Mike Trout’s need for speed; Bryce Harper’s insane balance and strength; or Jose Altuve's fierce dedication to an exercise routine.

The sport is no walk in the park: “Throwing a baseball is the single fastest motion in all of sports,” he says. And an exercise program designed to help you sprint fast or react quickly isn’t enough. That’s why top trainers incorporate something else: medicine balls.

“Medicine ball training, when done correctly, is the biggest thing we can do in a gym setting that replicates a baseball player’s movements on the field,” says Geromini. The technique can work for you, too. After all, the goal is similar: “to be athletic, explosive, and powerful.”

To get there, complete the below workout from Geromini—which will challenge your core, arms, glutes, shoulders, and hips—before your typical weight lifting session twice a week. Leave a few days in between sessions.

Day 1:

(1) Overhead Medicine Ball Stomp to Floor: Using an 8- to 12-pound medicine ball, reach arms straight overhead, get tall, keep your core tight, squeeze your glutes, and slam the ball as hard as you can to ground. Complete 3 sets of 8 reps. 

(2) Supine Bridge March: Lay on your back, legs bent, feet flat on ground, lift to a bridge position with butt in the air. One leg at a time, lift knee toward head and squeeze butt, switch legs. Complete 3 sets of 6 reps per side. 

(3) Rotational Medicine Ball Scoop Toss to Wall:
Using a 6-pound medicine ball, stand a few feet from the wall, arms down by side. Load into back hip as if you are swinging a bat, and rotate through upper back. Throw the ball against the wall as hard as you can with arms down (a scoop motion), finishing as if you swung a bat. Complete 3 sets of 8 reps per side. 

(4) Mini Band Side Steps: Place a mini band above your knees. With feet underneath your hips, take a step out with your left leg making sure you press out against the band and your knees don’t cave in, your right leg follows. Repeat each direction 8 times. Complete 3 sets per side. 

Day 2:

(1) Recoiled Rollover Med Ball Stomp to Floor: Using an 8-pound medicine ball, start with arms by your side. Lift the ball overhead by rotating around your side like a windmill. Once you reach the highest point, get tall, squeeze glutes, slam ball as hard as you can. Then do the same on the other side. Complete 3 sets of 4 reps on each side. 

(2) Bird Dog: Start in a quadruped position (on your hands, knees, and feet) with your back flat. Raise and straighten your right arm and left leg in the air without letting your body shift to the side or your back to arch. Come down and do the same thing on the opposite side. The goal of the exercises is to keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes. Complete 3 sets of 8 reps per side. 

(3) Rotational Medicine Ball Shot Put to Wall: Using a 6-pound medicine ball, stand a few feet from the wall, arms up at shoulder height (think like a shot putter). Load into your back hip as if you are swinging a bat, rotate through your upper back, and throw the ball against the wall as hard as you can. Try to reach for the wall at the finish. Complete 3 sets of 8 reps on each side. 

(4) Bear Crawls: Start on all fours on the ground (in a quadruped position). Lift knees off the ground and crawl forward with the right hand and left leg, then the left hand and right leg. Picture having a pot of coffee on your back—don’t let it spill. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.