Baseball Workout Mistake #3 - Lifting With A Single Purpose
Your strength training program is the foundation upon which the
rest of your training program is build. This is not to say that it
is the most important part of the program, simply the ground floor
of the skyscraper that you are in the process of building.
On a more scientific note, your muscles ability to produce force is
the limit of your potential energy on the field. So the stronger
your muscles are the more force you can generate during game
Your strength training program will consist of 3 different types of
exercises; Strength exercises, Power exercises, and Endurance
Your strength exercises are designed with one goal in mind. Can you
guess what it is? Right, to help you gain strength, and a lot of
it! On these exercises you will be lifting weights heavy enough
that you can barely complete the recommended repetitions for each
set. If you are able to complete all of the reps easily you are
limiting the amount of strength that you can build.
Just as your strength exercises are designed to build strength,
your power exercises are designed to develop power. Power is a
combination of speed and strength. It is the ability to move a
weighted object over a certain distance rapidly. If the difference
between strength and power exercises is a bit confusing here is an
example for you. Someone that can squat 600 pounds demonstrates a
great deal of strength. Someone that can take a 50 pound barrel and
throw it high into the air demonstrates a great deal of power. Did
you catch the difference there? Strength can be slow moving with a
lot of weight, power is explosive with considerably less weight.
This is a mistake that most athletes make when training for
baseball. They assume that strength is the key.
My question then becomes how strong do you have to be to throw a
ball that weighs only 5 ounces and swing a bat that weighs less
than 2 pounds? Do you need to be able to bench 300 pounds to be a
.300 hitter or squat 450 pounds to hit the ball 450 feet?
And the final aspect that we will be concerned with during your
strength training program is training for muscular endurance.
Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to perform an
action with strength and power repeatedly.
If that was a bit too confusing try this - it's the ability for
your body to do the same thing over and over again without getting
tired! I probably don't need to go into detail on how this relates
to the sport of baseball, but I will anyway. All of these actions
are repeated dozens, if not hundreds, of times throughout each game
by each player regardless of position: throwing, swinging,
sprinting, jumping, and diving. How many times during the game do
you do them half heartedly? If you said anything more than "none"
please stop reading now and go find a book about work ethic! Every
play in the game of baseball requires 100% effort to accomplish the
desired result. You may remember the line from
Shelton's (1988) baseball movie classic Bull Durham,
Skip - You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your
way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. Do you
know what that makes you? Larry?
Larry - Lollygaggers
Skip - Lollygaggers. What's our record, Larry?
Larry - Eight and sixteen
Skip - Eight and Sixteen! How'd we ever win eight?
Larry - It's a miracle!
What this is in reference to a team that was not putting 100%
effort into their playing ability and their horrible record showed
their lack of enthusiasm for the game. Can you imagine an
outfielder jogging after a ball hit into the gap? That is a free
pass for the batter to turn a double into a stand up triple. Or
what about a shortstop putting 85% effort into jumping for a line
drive hit over his head? What could have been an out now has the
potential of turning into a double. Have you seen a third baseman
make a diving stop on a ball hit down the line only to get up and
"toss" the ball across the diamond to first base? Of course not, if
he puts 100% effort into his diving stop he is going to put 100%
effort into throwing the ball to the first baseman. And finally,
how far is the ball going to travel on a fly ball if you only swing
the bat with 75% of your effort?
What would have been a 3 run homerun safely lands in the glove of
the left fielder for the 3rd out in the 9th!
So you're saying to yourself that these are all great examples of
why you need to be strong and powerful, but where does the muscular
endurance come into play here? Great question! To perform each of
these actions a single time requires absolutely no muscular
endurance. The muscular endurance is important around the 6th, 7th,
8th, and 9th innings when you would normally be tiring out from
those motions. If you are an outfielder you need to make sure that
your arm just as strong late in the game as it is early in the game
because you might have to make a critical throw to the plate to cut
down a run. And I'm sure that by now you can find similar examples
from all of the other actions and how they would apply to your
In order to train for muscular endurance you will not be using a
heavy weight like you did while training for strength, and you
won't be moving explosively like you did while training for power.
Instead you will be using a moderate weight and performing the
exercise for a specific duration.