Do you feel that the Westside Barbell method is good for baseball players? If not, what do you do with your baseball athletes? I train mostly football players using the Westside method but I just had my first baseball player ask me to train him and I want to do the right thing. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
Great question. I’m currently working with many high-level baseball players myself, including Cleveland Indians 1st round draft pick, Corey Smith. Although many aspects of the program that I designed for Corey are “Westside-based”, I don’t follow their exact template. I don’t think following Westside Barbell’s exact program is the best thing for a baseball player so I tweaked it a little.
For example, the upper body workouts aren’t geared towards improving Corey’s bench press (obviously). Primary areas of focus are improving relative strength of his lats, triceps and forearms – all of which I feel are of utmost importance for hitting and throwing power. His external rotator and abdominal strength have also improved ten-fold since he started working with me. (We train upper body twice a week.)
My lower body workouts resemble a “Westside workout” more than the upper body workouts. For example, we perform dynamic box squats with bands and/or chains once a week. We perform the box squats with a wide stance and focus on “spreading the floor” with our feet to activate the hip rotators. Unlike Westside, we always follow squatting with some form of unilateral movement. Single leg squats, step-ups, lateral step-ups, reverse lunges and low-pulley split squats are my favorites. We then hit the posterior chain hard. I cycle reverse hyperextensions, pull-throughs and glute-ham raises into the workouts. Forward, backward and lateral sled drags may finish off the workout. (We train lower body twice a week.)
Another major difference between what I’m doing with my baseball guys and what Westside Barbell does with their powerlifters is the fact that my baseball guys work on improving their flexibility EVERYDAY – sometimes multiple times a day. The musculature surrounding the hip is given top priority. Dynamic, P.N.F. and static stretching are all incorporated throughout the day.
Diet, supplementation and anaerobic conditioning are also a top priority. Alcohol is also completely omitted from the diet during the weeks leading up to spring training.
I would also like to make one final note to all of the baseball players out there: Don’t be afraid to hit the weights hard! Weight training is one of the most powerful tools for improving performance. As long as you’re doing the correct exercises, implemented at the correct time, weight training WILL help to improve your performance.
Find yourself a competent strength
coach and start moving some iron!
Lately I've heard people mention increases in big lifts (cleans, benches, chins, etc). just by training their grip. As I'm hearing this, I've also noticed my grip SUCKS. Do you have a grip workout I can do? Exercises, sets, reps, rest periods and frequency per week. My main goal is to grab girls by the wrist so they can't get away.
A: Weak Kidnapper,
Although I don’t endorse “grabbing girls so they can’t get away”, you have inquired about an interesting topic – grip training. I will answer your question - even though you’re a freak who will probably be using your strong grip to hold onto the bars of your prison cell in the near future.
First of all, let’s examine
why I feel that training the hands/forearms/grip is
such an important component to an athlete’s
training program. Check out any anatomy or neurology
book and you will notice the tremendous amount of
nerve endings in the hands. When you improve the strength
of your hands, you are strengthening the body part
that is most closely connected to the brain. Hopefully
we all know the importance of the nervous system with
regards to our strength training.
Now, let’s think about all of the exercises in the weight room where we are required to hold onto a barbell, dumbbell, machine, etc. We can also examine all of the skills that are required in all of sports that require using our hands to hold, throw, catch, grab, etc. The list is endless. Yet, walk into any gym and you will find athletes training with straps, hooks, wrist wraps and gloves. These are also the same people who have the handshake of a dead fish. It’s pathetic!
Mark my word: If you improve your grip/hand strength, you are improving the link between the mind and your muscles on almost ALL exercises in the gym, as well as improving your performance on the athletic field.
Here’s a sample workout that I have used with great success. It’s incredibly simple and it won’t interfere with any training program that you’re currently on. You’re simply going to perform one grip exercise Monday-Friday and you will take the weekends off. On workout days, simple perform the one grip exercise immediately after your workout. If you don’t have a workout scheduled one day – that’s fine. You would just perform the one required grip exercise at some point during the course of the day. Even though this may look simple, your hands and forearms will be sore for the first week or two. It may take some time for your body to become accustomed to training your grip everyday. ONLY DO ONE EXERCISE PER DAY – DON’T COMBINE DAYS! It’s very easy to overtrain your grip. Here’s your workout:
Thick bar holds, overhand grip – 4 sets of 45 seconds.
Rest 90 seconds between sets.
bar hold, overhand grip
Thick bar wrist roller – 3 sets of 2 reps (up/down, up/down is 2 reps).
Rest 90 seconds between sets.
bar wrist roller
Poor man’s pinch-gripping (no special pinch-gripping equipment required)
– Pinch grip 2-3 10lb. plates in each hand (smooth sides of the plates on the outside) for as long as possible. Repeat 3 times.
Rest 90 seconds between attempts.
man’s pinch gripping
Plate-loaded grip machine – 5 sets of 5 reps, holding last rep together for
10 seconds. Rest 2 minutes between sets.
Hammer curls – 4 sets of 6 reps each arm. Rest 90-120 seconds between sets.
Improving your grip strength on this program won’t only increase your strength in the weight room; it will also help you improve upon the following areas in athletics, just to name a few:
FOOTBALL PLAYERS – catching a football, decrease your potential to fumble, increase throwing power, increase grabbing/tackling strength, increase offensive lineman blocking / “holding” power
BASEBALL PLAYERS – increased bat speed, increased throwing power
WRESTLERS/MIXED MARTIAL ARTISTS – increased ability to control your opponent, increased choking power/submissions
HOCKEY PLAYERS – stronger slapshots, more powerful checks
BASKETBALL PLAYERS – grabbing rebounds, dunking
Don’t forget to eat your spinach!
Great website! If you were
training a baseball player to run a faster
60-yard dash, would you include any overspeed training into your program? What are your thoughts on overspeed training?
Thanks for your help.
A: : Brad,
I’ve trained many baseball players to improve their 60-yard dash times and I’ve never used overspeed running. I feel that overspeed training can be useful if implemented properly, but it just never seems to be practical in the “real world”.
A one to three-degree declined surface has been found to be optimal for overspeed running. The problem is how many 60-yard slopes are you aware of that are exactly between 1 and 3-degrees downhill the entire distance? I don’t know of any where I’m from.
What usually happens is that athlete’s end up running down hills that are way too steep or they end up having a partner pull them using surgical tubing (towing). If the athlete runs down a hill that is too steep or they are pulled too forcefully with the tubing, it can actually make them slower! This is because improper overspeed training causes overstriding. This overstriding creates “breaking forces”(foot landing in front of the hip in a heel-to-toe fashion) which causes a LONGER ground-contact time than flat surface running! I’ve also seen people fall flat on their face performing this type of training!
I’ve gotten the best results with my athletes by teaching them proper crossover step acceleration mechanics, strength training, flexibility training, bodyfat reduction and practicing running 60’s.
Hope this helps.
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