Exercises to Strengthen Your Pitching Muscles
It is imperative to include a strength and conditioning program for a pitcher to have prolonged success in baseball. A good strength and conditioning program can help a pitcher have better endurance for both single game performance and seasonal performance, as well as help to add velocity to his pitches and, most importantly, help to reduce the risk of injury. Since pitchers use their whole body to pitch, it is important to train the whole body, not just the arm and shoulder.
Leg strength and endurance is crucial for pitchers because much of the power and force behind a pitch comes from pushing off the rubber. Lateral lunges are one of the best exercises to mimic this motion. Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart, take a large step laterally to the right. Keep your left leg straight as the right leg bends. Your weight should transfer almost completely to the right leg. At the lowest point in the exercise your right foot, knee, hip and shoulder should all be in a line. Explode back to the beginning position and repeat on the opposite side. For an additional challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand.
It is important to work the abdominal region, particularly with rotation. The medicine ball Russian twist not only has the rotational component for the abs but also requires the hips to stabilize much like they do during the throwing motion. Lie down on a stability ball with your head and shoulders resting on the ball, and hold a medicine ball out in front of you. Flex your glutes to stabilize your hips and slowly rotate to your right. Ideally you can rotate until your arms are parallel with the ground, then rotate in a very controlled manner back to the center and repeat on the left.
The shoulder will always be one of the most important parts for a pitcher to strengthen because the muscles in the shoulder are smaller and more susceptible to injury than many of the other muscles involved in throwing a baseball. The full can raise is excellent because it works the deltoids and the rotator cuff at the same time. Hold a small pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing out. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise the weights, thumbs up, to shoulder level at 45 degrees. Slowly return to the starting position.
The forearm is also important because a strong forearm can help protect the elbow as well as improve grip, and finger dexterity, which in turn can improve velocity and movement of the pitch. Wrist curls target the appropriate group of muscles. Sit on a bench and rest your forearm on your thigh with your wrist on your knee. Keep the forearm in contact with your thigh as you curl a dumbbell.
Chris Chinn has been a personal trainer for more than five years, earning his Bachelor of Science in health and exercise science from Colorado State University as well as seven national certifications. With more than 6,000 training and consulting hours, Chinn began writing in 2009 in an effort to improve the information available for all who seek it.