Pitching Exercises: The Complete Guide

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Featuring over 190 of the most effective pitching exercises currently used by MLB pitchers.

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Finding good pitching exercises can often be a difficult task, so I decided I would outline some popular ones. These exercises can be incorporated into any pitcher strength training routine.

Effective weightlifting exercises for pitching should be designed to build lean muscle mass, muscular balance, explosion, and power.

As well known, pitching velocity is generated from the ground up, and this means that kinetic energy is passed through your legs, into your core, through the upper body, and transferred into the throwing arm. This energy chain requires exceptional leg strength and explosion in order to see above average velocity. There are hundreds of exercises that will build leg strength, but some are not considered to be pitching-specific exercises.

While not every exercise that a pitcher uses is specific to the throwing motion, it is still a good concept to live by. Most pitching weightlifting exercises should involve free weights, barbells, and feet-to-ground contact.

It's also very important to incorporate medicine balls, kettlebells, plyometrics, and agility's into your routine. Simply weightlifting alone will not result in significant benefits. You must use all of these techniques in combination in order to see the greatest results.

Youth baseball pitchers need to make sure they are at the appropriate age before they begin utilizing some of these weightlifting exercises.

Typically, younger pitchers should wait until they reach puberty to begin weightlifting. This does not mean young baseball pitchers should avoid strength training altogether, but instead, they should incorporate a different form.

Body weight exercises are safe, and effective for building a strong foundation in youth pitchers. These pitching exercises will prepare players bodies for the strenuous act of weightlifting.

Every pitcher strength training routine must begin with the legs.

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4 great lower body pitching exercises

Leg exercises for pitching are essential for players looking to excel at any level of competition. Exceptional leg strength can increase pitching velocity, running speed, explosiveness, and reduce the amount of stress on the throwing arm.

There are hundreds of leg exercises that are utilized by every day people, but pitchers must use exercises that are specific to the sport. Typically, most leg exercises will involve barbells, dumbbells, and single-leg stability. The majority of leg exercises for pitchers will be performed with the subjects feet on the ground because this simulates how the sport is played.

Leg exercises like leg press, machine squats, leg extensions, and leg curls are all great exercises, but should be not be the primary ones used for a pitcher strength training routine.

Pitchers should focus on leg exercises that are for generating power and explosiveness. Here are some exercises that college and professional baseball players will use in their training routines:

Since strong and explosive legs are the foundation for pitching velocity and arm health, it is important that every pitcher has an idea of how to perform each exercise.

  1. Squats
  2. Overall, squats are among the best legs exercises for pitching. This popular exercise builds strength in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and groin. Most people utilize the barbell back squat, but other forms include front, Romanian, box, deep, and Olympic squats.

  3. Lunges
  4. Following squats, lunges are among the top exercises for building strength in pitcher's legs. Lunges strengthen the groin, glutes, and hamstrings. This is a pitcher-specific exercise because of its motion. Lunging out is similar to how a pitcher strides during that phase of the pitching mechanics. You can use dumbbells or a barbell to perform lunges.

  5. Barbell deadlifts
  6. Deadlifts should be incorporated into every baseball pitchers exercise routine because of strength building possibilities. This exercise will build strength in the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Deadlifts are usually performed with a barbell, but an alternative is a single leg deadlift which utilizes a single dumbbell.

    Here are 9 steps for performing barbell deadlifts for baseball pitchers:

    1. Start with the your feet about shoulder width or less apart.
    2. The barbell should begin in at the center of your feet.
    3. Grip the bar with an overhand grip.
    4. Bend with your knees until your shins hit the bar.
    5. Shoulder blades should remain above the bar.
    6. Lift your chest with your head inline with the rest of your spine.
    7. Pull your body back with the bar close to your body.
    8. Roll the barbell over your knees and thighs until your hips and knees lock.
    9. Perform the negative portion by lowering the bar by pushing your hips back first, then bend your knees once the bar reaches knee level.

    Avoid during more weight than you can handle, and do not bend your back to lift the weight.

  7. Single leg deadlifts
  8. Single leg dumbbell deadlifts can be used as an alternative to barbell or be used in combination with it. This exercise is pitching-specific because it is similiar to the finishing or follow through motion of the pitching delivery. It also requires a considerate amount of balance on one leg.

    You will need one dumbbell for the exercise. You will hold the dumbbell on the same side of your lift leg. Lower your upper body and the dumbbell down to your plant foot. Do not bend your back.

Leg exercises for baseball are essential for increasing playing performance and ability on the field. Now that you understand which exercises are best for strength training the legs, it is now important that you understand the idea of muscular balance.

Training and building strength in the legs should always be the number one priority for baseball pitchers, but maintaing muscular balance is equally important.

In addition to leg exercises, baseball players must also perform upper body exercises in order to promote proper muscular balance.

6 great upper body pitching exercises

Upper body pitching exercises are critical for maintaining muscular balance. Instructors of the past viewed upper body weightlifting as a taboo for pitchers. However, with modern advancements in baseball strength training, it know understood that upper body exercises can be very beneficial for baseball pitchers.

These exercises will promote muscular balance, increase strength, possibly increase velocity, and prevent any potential throwing arm injuries.

There are numerous types of upper body exercises that you will see people performing in the gym, but it is important that pitchers utilize exercises that are not only safe, but more specific to baseball.

Pitchers should avoid barbell bench press, any type of military press either dumbbell or barbell, and should also avoid excessive heavy shoulder exercises. Training the rotator cuff is much more beneficial for pitchers than training the larger muscles of the shoulder.

Each of the subsequent upper body exercises are safe for pitchers, and are utilized by many college or professional players. Always maintain proper weightlifting form with these exercises, and abide by the concept of form over weight. This will prevent any unnecessary injuries in the weight room.

While leg strength is vitally important to baseball pitchers, having a well balanced upper body is equally important. There are many upper body weightlifting exercises for pitchers, and I will explain the popular ones. Like previously mentioned, pitchers should avoid any heavy shoulder exercises or over the head training. In addition, barbell bench press should also be avoided.

  1. Incline and flat dumbbell bench press
  2. It is safe for pitchers to utilize dumbbell bench press on both the flat and incline bench. Use a appropriate amount of weight when performing this exercise. The movements should be slow and controlled.

    For the flat bench, simply grab two dumbbells, lay on your back, press the weight up, lower the weight slowly, and repeat. At the top of the motion, the dumbbells should connect directly above your face.

  3. Push-ups
  4. If you're concerned about lifting weights for chest strength, you can also build strength through performing pushups as an alternative. You can also use pushups in combination with other weightlifting exercises. Don't underestimate this workout because push-ups for baseball are excellent for building strength in the rotator cuff and core.

  5. Lateral pulldowns
  6. This is an excellent exercise for strengthening the lats. The lats are heavy utilized in the throwing motion. If you are wondering what the lats are, they are the muscles located on both sides of your upper back, which connect directly under your arm pit and connect with your shoulder blades.

    Note: never perform this exercise with the bar going behind your head. This is a very dangerous movement for the rotator cuff.

    Here are 7 steps for performing lateral pulldowns for baseball pitchers:

    1. Grip the bar further than shoulder width apart.
    2. You will then pull the bar down by using your lats first, and then your arms.
    3. Your upper body only be slightly angled backwards, but it should not move or swing backwards to get the weight down.
    4. Only use weight that will allow you to maintain good form.
    5. Pull the bar to just below your chin with your shoulder blades squeezed, and return to the starting position slowly.
    6. Each rep should be slow and controlled.
    7. Only your arms, lats, and shoulder blades be moving during this exercise. Form always over weight.
  7. Single arm dumbbell pulls
  8. This exercise will also help to build your lats and upper back muscles. You will need one dumbbell and a flat bench.

    Here are 5 steps for performing dumbbell pulls:

    1. Put one knee on the bench, and place your hand at the end of the bench for stabilization.
    2. Keep your back straight.
    3. With your opposite arm, lower the weight towards the ground, extend and stretch your shoulder blade.
    4. Once you feel the stretch, pull the dumbbell back up by first pulling with the shoulder blade, and then the arm.
    5. Bring the dumbbell to your chest, and repeat. Every repetition should be slow and controlled.
  9. Tricep rope extensions
  10. The tricep muscles are utilized pretty heavily in the throwing motion, so it's important that pitchers incorporate some exercises to strengthen these arm muscles. Rope extensions are an excellent tricep exercise for pitchers.

    Here are 6 steps for performing rope extensions for baseball pitchers:

    1. You will need the rope, and a cable machine to connect it.
    2. Stand straight up, and do not lean over the rope.
    3. Keep your elbows tucked to your side, and your hands gripped at the bottom of both sides of the rope.
    4. Press the weight down, bring the both sides of the rope towards your hip and flex your triceps.
    5. Perform the negative portion of the exercise slow and controlled until you reach the starting position.
    6. Your hands and arms should reach about 90 degrees, and then repeat.
  11. Dumbbell hammer curls
  12. While the biceps are not really used in the throwing motion, it is still important that you incorporate some bicep exercises into your routine to make sure that your body is staying balancing. Hammer curls will strengthen your biceps and upper forearm muscles.

    Here are 5 steps for performing hammer curls for baseball pitchers:

    1. Obtain two dumbbells, and stand about shoulder width apart.
    2. Your palms should be facing your hips with the weight.
    3. You will then curl the weight straight without twisting the dumbbells.
    4. You will flex the biceps, and then slowly return the weight down to the starting position and repeat.
    5. Every repetition should be slow and controlled.

Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.

Learn about my workout programs for pitchers

TUFFCUFF pitching program One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not.

To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my latest strength training, conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.

Learn more

READ THIS NEXT: Pitching Mechanics: The Complete Guide

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