Does Swinging a Baseball Bat Strengthen Your Abdominal Muscles?
Swinging a baseball bat is a total-body exercise. You move the bat with your arms and shoulders, gain power from your legs and rotate your torso with your hips. As you turn your body during the swing you stretch your abdominal muscles, including your rectus abdominis and obliques. Your obliques also contract at different points in your swing, offering strength benefits.
Watch any pro baseball game and you’ll see that even at the highest levels, swings vary from player to player. Certain fundamentals, however, are key elements in any swing. If you’re a right-handed batter, as viewed from above, begin your swing by rotating clockwise -- starting with your arms, shoulders then your hips -- and shifting some weight to your right foot. You then lift your left foot and stride toward the pitcher. Your hips begin rotating counterclockwise while your arms and shoulders continue moving clockwise, coiling your torso and stretching the abs. Your shoulders then reverse and begin rotating counterclockwise, followed by your arms. Your left leg straightens, but doesn’t lock, and your right knee bends approximately 45 degrees when the bat reaches the impact point.
When you move the bat back, rotating clockwise, your left obliques contract to help rotate your spine and coil your torso, while your right obliques are stretched. The opposite occurs when you pull the bat through the hitting zone, as your right obliques contract and your left obliques are stretched. Therefore, you do strengthen your obliques when you swing the bat, due to the muscle contraction. Without resistance, however, your rectus abdominis isn’t significantly strengthened.
Strong Abs for Baseball
Strong abdominal muscles help generate the bat speed you need to hit with power. Baseball strength and conditioning coach Bob Alejo recommends strengthening your abs by adding weight to standard body-weight exercises. Perform weighted crunches by keeping your legs in the air and holding a weight plate in front of you with your arms extended. Wear ankle weights to perform hanging leg raises. Do weighted rotational exercises by holding a weight about 6 to 12 inches in front of your torso, then rotate from your waist as quickly as possible while you move the weight from side to side.
Many Americans play baseball and softball from a young age. If you’ve been away from the game for a while, consult your physician before you go back on the field, particularly if you have any health issues. Likewise, talk to your doctor before you start a new ab-strengthening routine. While swinging a baseball bat engages your abdominal muscles, many other exercises do a better job of strengthening your abs, such as crunch variations and captain’s chair leg lifts.
- Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy: Hitting a Baseball: A Biomechanical Description
- Baseball Swing Mechanics: How to Get Powerful Swing Mechanics Along with Stronger and Faster Muscles
- Bodybuilding.com: Build Incredible Bat Speed for Baseball & Softball
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.