Texas Rangers Strength Training Plan

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Undoubtedly, enormous shoulders and ridiculous biceps will make you an intimidating opponent and a fan favorite. You'll probably be known as the scariest dude in your league. But, if you want to be known for a legitimate reason, like sick power at the plate, forget about working your beach muscles. To get freakish, attention-grabbing pop in your bat, you need to focus on your core.

"You don't need a big upper body to hit the ball," says Jose Vazquez, the Texas Rangers' strength and conditioning coach. "Getting big and bulky on top just makes you stiffer and your bat slower."

The Rangers' emphasis on core and hip training has kept the team on top in a slew of offensive categories—including runs scored, total bases and runs batted in—and has also produced phenomenal individual performers, like 2005 All-Star selection Michael Young. Last year, Young led all shortstops in batting average (.331) and was second in homeruns (24) and RBIs (91). His offensive success has continued this season, as he is currently leading most shortstops in batting average and RBIs.

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Undoubtedly, enormous shoulders and ridiculous biceps will make you an intimidating opponent and a fan favorite. You'll probably be known as the scariest dude in your league. But, if you want to be known for a legitimate reason, like sick power at the plate, forget about working your beach muscles. To get freakish, attention-grabbing pop in your bat, you need to focus on your core.

"You don't need a big upper body to hit the ball," says Jose Vazquez, the Texas Rangers' strength and conditioning coach. "Getting big and bulky on top just makes you stiffer and your bat slower."

The Rangers' emphasis on core and hip training has kept the team on top in a slew of offensive categories—including runs scored, total bases and runs batted in—and has also produced phenomenal individual performers, like 2005 All-Star selection Michael Young. Last year, Young led all shortstops in batting average (.331) and was second in homeruns (24) and RBIs (91). His offensive success has continued this season, as he is currently leading most shortstops in batting average and RBIs.

According to Vazquez, Young's success with the stick results from two things: natural ability and proper training. "You have to have talent to hit, no doubt," he says. "But strength, endurance and power all play into it, too, because each swing is a power movement."

To improve power movement, the Rangers use rotational exercises. "We address rotation almost daily, because it's your rotational plane of movement that has to be strengthened," Vazquez says. "Everything you do in baseball—hitting, throwing and running—is dominated by your rotational abilities."

The main generators of rotational power are the hips and core. Vazquez groups together four or five baseball-specific medicine ball movements to train both areas each day. He's created four different routines for the Rangers. One of these, the Standing Core Routine, includes rotations, chops, sidebends and rotational bounces. "They can do the routine by themselves, because no throwing is involved," he says.

He recommends performing this particular routine two times a week with a six-pound medicine ball. Using a heavier ball can affect your speed of movement and reduce the drill's benefits.

Vault your offensive game to the top. Perform 2 sets of 4-5 of the following drills twice a week. Rest for 10-15 seconds between each exercise and 1-2 minutes between sets.

Tight Rotation

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands close to body
• Twist and rotate ball as far right as possible, then back left
• Perform 20 rotations

Wide Rotation

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands with arms fully extended
• Twist and rotate ball as far right as possible, then back left
• Perform 20 rotations

Coaching Point: Comparing the wide rotations to the tight rotations, the wide rotations are more stressful and require a lot more energy, because the lever arm is longer when the ball is away from you. If you carry a box close to your body, your core doesn't have to exert as much force. But if you hold it with your arms straight out, there's more energy recruitment from your trunk muscles.

Circle

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands
• With straight arms, move ball in large circle in front of body
• Circle ball 10 times clockwise
• Circle ball 10 times counterclockwise

Coaching Point: Only perform 10 reps, because it's a weird motion that puts stress on the spine.

Overtop

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands to one side
• Bring ball overhead keeping arms straight
• Bring ball to opposite side, then bring back overhead
• Perform 20 reps

Bouncing Rotation

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands close to body
• Rotate as far right as possible
• Bounce ball off ground behind right leg and catch off bounce
• Rotate as far left as possible and repeat bounce and catch behind left leg
• Perform 10 reps

Coaching Point: This exercise continues the rotational theme, but the bouncing makes you concentrate more and adds hand eye coordination to the drill.

X

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands overhead and slightly to right
• Pull ball down to left of left knee as you perform slight squat
• Stand up, bring ball overhead and slightly to left
• Bring ball down to the right of right knee as you perform slight squat
• Perform 20 reps

Figure 8

• Get in athletic stance and hold med ball with both hands overhead and slightly to right
• Bring ball down to left of left knee as you perform slight squat
• Bring ball across legs to right of right knee
• Stand up, bring ball up and across body to left of overhead
• Bring ball back to starting position
• Perform 20 reps

Coaching Point: The X and Figure 8 drills have the same benefit. When you take an object away from the body, you create stress on the spine at different angles. This works the back and trunk muscles a little harder through different planes of movement.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | BASEBALL | CORE | COACH | POWER | EXERCISE | TRAIN | MED BALL | DRILL | STANCE | STRESS