Mike Leake began his MLB career in 2010 with a bang. He was the first player since 2000 to skip the minor leagues after the draft, winning a starting pitcher position with the Cincinnati Reds and remaining undefeated after 10 starts. However, his rookie season ended prematurely when he landed on the DL with shoulder fatigue.
Leake's goal during the off-season was to focus on strength training to ensure he doesn't give out again during the marathon MLB season. "I ultimately broke down last year because my body wasn't prepared," says Leake. "Training is crucial because you need to maintain strength for the long baseball season."
Although Leake's shoulder revealed the problem, strength deficiencies in other areas of his body may have contributed to his injury. Sean Marohn, the Reds' minor league strength coach, says, "Many baseball players are surprised to learn that shoulder injuries can actually result from weakness elsewhere in the body—reason enough to start strength training."
So Leake embarked on an aggressive off-season training program, focusing on his shoulders and lower body. For his lower body, he decided to use a new training device called the ElliptiGo, which is essentially a pedal scooter propelled by a motion similar to what's used on a standard elliptical trainer.
The ElliptiGo was designed to simulate running on an elliptical machine, but it can also be used outdoors. "I don't like running because of the pounding it puts on your legs," says Leake. "With the ElliptiGo, you don't get all the stress on your knees and legs."
Leake primarily uses the ElliptiGo for sprint work and hill climbing to develop lower body power; however, he mentions that it's a great tool for endurance athletes as well. Overall, he believes the ElliptiGo has contributed to a stronger lower body and looser hips, facilitating a longer and more powerful pitching stride.
To ride the ElliptiGo, you must be over five feet tall and be at least 18 years old to purchase. Check it out at elliptigo.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Mike Leake
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