Table of Contents
Pitchers play an important part in baseball. Tasked with throwing the ball at the catcher, pitching requires both skill and speed. The pitching motion doesn’t just entail fast arm speed to throw the ball.
In order to generate enough force to aid with high speed throws, a number of lower body muscles come into play helping to increase the velocity so that a ball can be thrown reaching speeds of up to 95mph.
However, the act of pitching can put significant strain on the body so it is important to develop your muscles with pitching strength exercises.
Pitching involves the overhand throw of a baseball with most common injuries being to rotator cuff muscles, forearm tendinitis and injuries to the elbow joint of the pitcher’s throwing shoulder.
By working on a specific arm strength routine will not only increase strength, it will increase muscle mass. This additional mass will provide better stability to joints making these type of injuries less common.
An effective strength training program should incorporate exercises to help improve arm strength and aid with injury prevention.
Strong arms will contribute to throwing longer distances, faster and with more accuracy.
All of which are vital for a high velocity pitcher. Not only that but working on increasing lower-body strength will also help to improve a pitcher’s throw and their athletic performance.
Below we consider some of the best pitching strength training exercises that can be incorporated into a pitchers workout routine alongside their velocity training.
Before commencing with any strength-based workout, make sure to warm up and stretch the muscles to reduce the risk of injury.
What Pitching Strength Exercises Increase Velocity?
Goblet Side Lunge Exercise
The goblet side lunge is a hip abduction exercise and will help to build strong legs.
The first part of the movement for a pitcher is driving from the hips, so improving strength and range of motion to the hips will help with their overall throwing power.
All you need for this exercise is a kettlebell or dumbbell.
- Start by standing with feet hip width apart whilst holding your chosen free weight at chest height with both hands. This is your start position.
- Take a wide step out to the side (keep the other leg straight throughout) and simultaneously push back the glutes.
- Bend the knee until around 90 degrees without letting it creep over your toes.
- Push back up to the starting position and repeat before switching legs.
There are two ways in which to perform this exercise.
Opt for a heavier weight and undertake slow and deliberate movements with the aim of improving strength.
To focus on more power building, switch to a lighter weight and drive off with the foot as hard as possible.
Getting the throwing hand in the right position immediately before the arm accelerates and the ball is released is crucial. Rotator cuff deceleration muscles benefit greatly from band external rotation.
Strong decelerators assist in keeping the power accelerators in your shoulder blades in check, which is crucial for a pitcher’s shoulder health.
Band rotations are excellent for improving strength to the rotator cuff muscles and improving their mobility. Both the external rotators and internal rotators assist with shoulder stability.
All you need for this exercise are a set of resistance bands.
- Start by anchoring your resistance band to either a door or wall at around hip height.
- Stand side on to the door and hold on to the band with the hand closest to the door. Step away from the door to create some resistance in the band.
- Maintain a 90-degree bend at the elbow and be sure to keep it tucked in throughout the exercise.
- Simply draw the band across your body by rotating your shoulder. This is good for internal rotation.
- Once you’ve completed 10 reps, take hold of the band with the hand farthest away from the door and undertake the same movement but draw the band outwards, this is beneficial for external rotation.
- After doing 10 reps on each hand, switch sides and repeat.
Bulgarian Split Squat
A pitcher’s legs and glutes need to be developed to boost the leg drive required to produce velocity, essential for a pitcher.
The foundation of any training regimen for a pitcher should include squats, lunges, and deadlifts since these explosive exercises are known to provide the greatest increase in lower body power.
It’s just as important for baseball players to develop their lower body and leg strength as it is to hone their arm strength.
Baseball players need to be able to transfer their energy from their legs to their arms to throw the ball effectively.
The Bulgarian split squat is a body weight exercise that strengthens your lower body by working your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and stabiliser muscles.
It’s slightly different from single leg squats, as in this variation you are required to elevate the back foot allowing you to achieve a deeper lunge for better muscle activation.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand upright in front of a bench or other elevated surface with your back to it.
- Keep your left leg straight and place your right foot up on the bench. You can place the foot down flat or rest on the toes.
- The front leg will be the one doing the work whilst the back leg, resting on the bench, will help provide stability throughout the movement.
- Lunge down until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and without allowing your toes to creep over your knee.
- Push through the heel of your front foot back to the starting position. After completing your reps, switch legs and repeat.
Cable Core Rotation
The cable core rotation, sometimes called the oblique twist, is a great way to improve core strength, flexibility, balance and mobility.
For this exercise, you’ll need access to a dual adjustable pulley and attachments.
Set the pulley on the machine to around hip height and choose your desired weight.
If you’re new to this exercise, start with a light weight.
- Maintain a standing position side on from the pulley.
- Take hold of the handle with both hands. Interlock the fingers to help with a strong grip.
- Take a large step away from the cable machine so that the cable is tight.
- Stand with your feet wide apart and point the toes on both feet away from the cable machine.
- Your body will already be in a twisted position, this is your starting position.
- Keeping your head facing the same way as your toes, pull the attachment around and in front of your body in an arc plane of motion. Keep your arms straight throughout.
- Slowly allow the cable to come back round to the starting position before repeating.
Single Leg Deadlift
The single leg deadlift is a great exercise for improving power and muscle mass to the lower part of the posterior chain.
Muscles worked include the hamstrings, lower back and glutes. It will also help improve hip and core stability and mobility.
How to do the single leg deadlift.
- Start by standing upright with feet close together.
- Raise one foot behind you so it’s just off of the ground.
- Hinge forward at the hips, keeping the rest of your body stationary.
- Make sure the knee that your weight is on does not fold inwards and that your hips remain straight throughout.
- Push the hips back as far as you can comfortably manage before returning back to the starting position and then repeat.
Once you can complete this exercise with ease, you can make it more challenging by holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
What Muscles Do You Use When Pitching?
Primary muscles activated during a ball pitch are the subscapularis (the largest of the rotator cuff muscle group) and the latissimus dorsi (lats).
Both muscles work simultaneously to allow the pitcher to throw a ball at speed.
What Lifts Should Pitcher And Baseball Players Not Do?
Whilst both are excellent for building muscle mass to the delts and upper chest , exercises such as the bench press and upright row are not suitable for baseball players.
This is because movements that involve lifting the arms can cause the supraspinatus tendon to rub between the head of the humerus and the osteoligamentous ceiling which can cause friction leading to inflammation.
Can I Improve My Throwing By Doing Pushups?
The glenohumeral joint, along with the other joints in the Kinetic Chain, must be able to move freely and effectively for a baseball pitcher to achieve a fast and accurate throw.
The push-up is an excellent choice since it not only satisfies this mobility need but also promotes healthy, strong shoulder blade’s function.
Do Weighted Baseballs Make You Throw Faster
Baseball players are increasingly relying on weighted ball programs to boost their velocity.
Multiple studies show that these programs successfully raise pitching velocity, increase shoulder strength and maximum shoulder blades’ external rotation.
The mechanics of the body during baseball pitching is more complicated than it may originally appear.
In order for the pitcher to throw the ball with precision and at great speed, it’s necessary to incorporate the correct strength exercises to focus on the muscle groups activated during the pitching motion.
It’s not just about rotator cuff exercises and building forearm and grip strength. A pitcher with a powerful lower body allows for increased energy transference to their throwing arm.
This shows that improving mobility, flexibility and strength to the entire body will have huge benefits for the pitcher.