Should Baseball Players Strength Train?

Strength training and baseball players has been a hot topic within these last couple of years, and it’s no secret why. Some live and die by a strength training regimen and hit the gym as if they are training for Mr. Olympia, then you have another group who are on the fence but dabble in the idea of strength and resistance training, and then there’s the last group: the ones who are terrified of the gym thinking if they just touch a barbell or dumbbell they will end up on the injured list. So which method is correct? Well, it all comes down to how you train.

Look any big leaguer: Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper, Michael Lorenzen, or even Tyler O’Neill. These are just a few examples of players who simply look like they have seen the inside of a gym. Well, more like live inside a gym, at least in the offseason. Point I am trying to make here is if you want to be big, strong and push the envelope when it comes to strength, velocity, or power, you NEED to be on a strength training program. There are many different programs out there that use weights and other resistance training workouts, but don’t utilize the proper exercises to truly build strength, and instead, build more aerobic or cardiovascular strength. Think of it like this: If you want to run a marathon in under two hours, are you going to start deadlifting, bench pressing, or squatting heavy 2-3 times a week? Not a chance. You’ll be doing HIIT training or other endurance/cardio workouts to boost your endurance. So, if you’re a 3rd baseman looking to increase you homers or power output, do you think using only dumbbells or doing resistance band training is going to get you there? Probably not. If you want to build true power, you need to lift weights and push yourself. There’s no way around it.

I can already hear it now: “But doesn’t lifting weights make the athlete more prone to injury?” Now, the answer isn’t always no. Unfortunately, there is an overabundance of “bro” lifting circulating around the training world and it’s not for the better. If you want to hit 5+ more homers next season, yes, you need to hit the gym, but do it correctly. One of the biggest mistakes I see in the gym are people ego lifting or doing compound movements (power cleans, deadlifts, squats, bench press) with terrible form. Now this alone will do the exact opposite of what you are trying to do. This will lead to injury. Everyone in the gym, even non-athletes, have different body structures. You don’t need to keep up with the weights the guy next to you is lifting to get bigger and stronger. If you stay within yourself, lift with strict motion and with proper form, you will receive the benefits of strength training. If you want to load up the bar and see how much your back can contort while you do a back squat – I hope you like sitting on the IR for an entire season. If you lift correctly, practice proper form and posture, listen to your body and fuel it correctly, strength training can not only benefit your game, but your overall health in general.

The stigma that “baseball players shouldn’t lift” is slowly disappearing with how many different approaches there are to strength training. Some are incredible, some are on the come up, and others are terrible and need to be stopped immediately. If you are looking to up your game and gain some muscle, power, or even velocity, start slowly working your way into the gym and working hard. Remember, it’s not about how much you’re lifting – it’s about how efficiently you move the weight. Now get out there and get to work!