Over the past decade, lifting weights and getting stronger have become mainstream in the baseball community. 20 years ago, players in high school didn’t take the weight room seriously. You can easily see the effects of this change just simply by looking at throwing velocity numbers. Players are bigger and stronger and this is directly translating into power on the field.
There are many different philosophies for getting stronger in baseball off-season training. Some trainers believe you should lift with high reps/low weight, some believe you should focus on mostly functional strength and range of motion to limit getting “tight.” Still others believe you shouldn’t lift at all.
Below are 4 tips I have created for getting stronger in the off-season. These are based on my experience as a baseball player as well as during my time as a D1 coach and now a facility owner at CageRat Baseball.
1. Lift heavy weights with low reps
There are many factors to take into consideration when building a strength program for offseason training. However, with the vast majority of high school baseball athletes, they are simply not strong enough to play at a high level. Performing lifts such as squats and deadlifts along with dumbbell bench press, dumbbell rows and pull-ups or lat pull-downs is a great start to a program. I would focus on staying in the 3-5 or 6-8 rep range on the primary lifts.
2. Make sure you’re eating ENOUGH
Maybe the most important tip out of my 4 tips to get stronger this off-season is this: EAT!! And when you get full or think you’re getting full, eat some more. We can break down how many of each macro to eat but the simple fact is most young athletes just do not eat enough. Focus on eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. I would also recommend tracking everything you put into your body for a few weeks just to see how much you are actually consuming. If you’re trying to gain weight but aren’t, you can adjust your calories upwards…however, you can only do this if you know how much you are eating!
3. Rest and Recover
First, when you’re designing a workout, make sure you’re not lifting the same body part every day. Typically, 2 days/week is plenty and 3 would be max. I also typically recommend taking one day per week completely off to allow your body to recover. Finally, I typically work 3 heavy weeks in a row with 1 week to “deload.” This allows your body to recover and allows you to see continuous strength gains.
Twice per year, I completely shut my players down for a few weeks. The first time is typically the end of July into the middle of August. This coincides with the end of the summer season and the beginning of the fall season. The 2nd period is at the beginning of Christmas break through the New Year. Our players experience the biggest jumps in velocity the 1st week of January simply because their bodies are fresh and ready to go!
4. Maintain your Range of Motion
Maintaining and increasing your range of motion in baseball offseason training is just as important as increasing your strength. Because of today’s culture, many kids are tight in their hips, hamstrings, lower body, shoulders, etc from a lifetime spent at desks and sitting playing video games. In order to get stronger this off season, you need to increase your range/flexibility. This will allow you to get in better positions while lifting but also will allow your body to get into good positions during your actual skill work as well. If you are tight, you won’t rotate as well, be able to create separation, or even do something as bend over to field ground balls as well.
Most importantly, make sure you are setting goals and tracking your progress. Getting stronger in offseason is not hard to do. However, it takes the right planning along with a lot of hard work and perseverance.