For many years, pitching workouts have widely consisted of long runs and limited weightlifting for shoulder protection. Although conditioning is important, it shouldn't be the basis of a pitching workout. Most pitching workouts lack training for improving overall arm strength and preventing injury.
Prehabilitation of the shoulder joint and strengthening the triceps, quads, hamstrings, rear deltoids, and core are essential for pitching. Add these to your workout, along with the usual long toss sessions, and you're sure to see improvement in your game.
Improving Arm Strength
The most effective way to improve arm strength for pitching is the long toss. This is a tried and true method, and you can't go wrong with it. Start at a normal pitching distance of about 60 feet, and try to increase the distance of each throw by about 10 feet. Be careful not to make your long toss sessions too long, especially if you're coming out of the off-season or recovering from an injury. A good starting point is to get in 10 to 20 challenging throws on three non-consecutive days.
Another way to improve arm strength is to strengthen the muscles that help provide the force for a pitch—the triceps, core, hamstrings and quadriceps.
The following sample workout is a simple weightlifting plan to strengthen the muscles involved in pitching. It's not a complete workout, just a selection of some exercises you can add to your current routine.
- Barbell Front Squat 3 sets of 8-12
- DB Lateral Lunge 3 sets of 8-12 per leg
- Lying DB Tricep Extension 3 sets of 8-12
- Planks 3 sets of 1 minute
- Cable Woodchop 3 sets of 8-12 per side
Elbow injuries are increasingly prevalent among pitchers. Most of them can be avoided by simply strengthening problem areas, taking extra care with the shoulder joint. The muscle that decelerates the arm after a pitch is called the rear deltoid. It is located in the upper part of the back. Most pitchers generally undertrain it, so adding rear deltoid work should reduce arm injuries. You will be able to properly decelerate your arm without placing extra strain on the joints and ligaments of the elbow and shoulder.
Another thing pitchers should become accustomed to doing is prehabilitation, or "prehab," as it is most often called. Prehab is the opposite of rehabilitation. You go to rehab when you are trying to heal an injury. Prehab helps prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Two great prehab exercises for the shoulder are:
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock