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Planks are an effective core exercise for baseball pitchers.
In fact, in my opinion, planks are one of the most effective baseball core exercises for achieving strong, balanced, and defined abs.
This core exercise is well known for its level of difficulty. It takes some serious mental perseverance to hold a plank position for 1-2 minutes, but doing so can do miraculous things for your abdominal muscles and core.
Not only will planks help build your abdominal strength, but they will also increase your overall body strength. Ab planks will strengthen your hips, lower back, hamstrings, quads, and even your shoulders.
As you should know by now, core strength is absolutely essential to increasing velocity, and maintain throughout a game, and an entire season.
Why are planks better than crunches?
I could write a novel about why planks are a more effective exercise for your core, but let's examine the basics.
Crunches only focus on the rectus abdominis muscles, or in more understandable terms, the front portion of your abs.
Ab planks on the other hand, focus on both the rectus abdominis muscles, AND the transverse abdominis muscles.
The transverse abdominis muscles are located on both sides of the rectus abdominis. These muscles are responsible for supporting the rectus abdominis, and are largely responsible for greater lower back health.
These facts are very important for baseball players because the transverse abdomnis muscles are responsible for the rotational force involved when hitting and pitching.
Planks offer a far greater degree of difficulty than crunches, but the rewards are much greater. Performing planks will strengthen your entire core, not just one portion of it. Stop wasting your time with hundreds of crunches, and start using planks in your abs and core training routine!
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2 different front planks for baseball pitchers
If you have never performed planks, starting with the front variation is recommended. There are two types of front planks variations. The first variation is in a push-up position, and this one can be considered a beginners plank.
- Push-up position
- Push-up position with interlocked fingers
Simply acquire the push up position and hold it anywhere from 30-60 seconds. If you can hold it for any longer, then you will need to advance to the most common type of plank.
The athlete in the picture is using a stick to ensure that his back remains straight and flexed during the entire exercise.
The second plank position is similar to the first except your elbows will be on the ground, holding the rest of your body up. Your hand positioning is really preferential, but most people will either interlock their fingers or hold their hands like fists.
Like I said, do what's comfortable.
The normal position is usually with your knees off of the ground, but if that is too difficult you can put them on the ground. However, having the knees lifted off the ground will ensure that the exercise is directly targeting your abs.
Try not to lift your glutes up in the air, and avoid letting your lower back sag too far. You want to hold this position so that your back is flat.
And the most important thing to remember is too squeeze your abs during the entire exercise and focusing on proper breathing patterns. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds or more if you are on the more advanced side.
If you are able to hold this position for more than 60-90 seconds with good form, then there is one technique to make it more difficult.
Advanced front planks
You will acquire the normal plank position, but instead, you will force your body back farther so that your upper body is no longer above your elbows. As you can see in the picture, the gentleman's elbows are directly below the shoulders.
With this modification, your elbows will be further out in front of you in a position that is in front of your shoulders not below them. This minor adjustment to the plank will significantly target the lower abdominal region, and greatly increase the difficulty of the exercise.
Just to put it in perspective, elite athletes struggle to hold this position for any longer than 30 seconds because of the extreme burn you will feel in your stubborn lower abs.
Side planks are far more difficult than front planks. Side planks focus directly on the transverse abdominis muscles, whereas front planks focus on both the transverse and rectus abdominis muscles.
This is a great exercise because it can help combat the dreaded "love handles."
For the side plank, you will have one elbow on the ground. You will push your body up with your elbow, and the sides of your feet as demonstrated in the picture.
The farther you push your body up, the greater of a squeeze you will get on your transverse abdominis muscles.
Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Once this exercise becomes too easy you can add a slight modification to the exercise.
Advanced side planks
Instead of holding this position for an extended period of time, you will instead perform repetitions by dropping your hip to the ground and pushing your body back up to side plank position.
This is a little more difficult, but you will feel an excellent burn. Repeating this motion for about 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions with proper form will be sufficient.
I hope this gave you a better understanding of planks, and you should definitely consider using this great core exercise in your routine.
Keep working hard. No off days. No excuses.
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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.
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