Arm Strengthening Exercises and Routines
Through the years, countless exercises, programs, and workouts have been developed for pitchers. Most of these training tools are designed to strengthen the pitching arm, improve durability, and decrease injury. The exercises and routines included here are the ones that I have found to be most effective. This is by no means an exhaustive list; however, for pitchers who are looking for a new arm strength routine, the exercises and stretches that follow will be invaluable. Even pitchers who already have an effective conditioning program will find valuable exercises that can be incorporated into the routine.
Resistance Tubing and Pitcher Stretch Exercises
Various stretching protocols can be used to properly warm up the body before beginning a throwing activity, some of which will be covered in chapter 11. The important thing is that stretching and a total-body warm-up must be done before throwing the baseball, not the other way around. For the pitcher’s arm to respond properly and have the ability to handle the stress of any type of throwing activity, the pitcher must first get the arm ready. Resistance tubing exercises, pitcher stretch exercises, and perhaps even general agility training are all suitable activities to engage in before throwing; these activities “grease the grooves,” prepare the neural pathways, open up and heat the body, and generally prepare the body to handle the demands that throwing a baseball places on it. Too often, players simply go out and warm up by throwing instead of warming up to throw. This is the equivalent of lifting a heavy weight without preliminary warm-up sets or running a sprint without prior running.
Resistance Tubing Exercises
After a proper general stretch that raises the core temperature of the body, the pitcher should engage in resistance tubing exercises. Resistance tubing is available in various tensions, so a pitcher or coach should identify the desired level of resistance before purchasing. I usually buy Thera-Band brand tubing, but there are many kinds out there that are comparable in both price and quality.
The band needs to be placed at the proper height before starting the tubing program. This will ensure that tension is not misplaced or altered, thereby ensuring that the greatest amount of tension is given across the range of motion. The band will be tied or clipped (carabiners work very well) at either hip or knee height depending on the exercise, and it can be tied to almost any fence or hook. Much of the tubing that is sold today comes in various resistance levels and often comes prepackaged with clips to hook onto the fence. Exercises should be completed using strict form and in a slow and controlled manner. The pitcher should strive for a large range of motion throughout the exercise. Tubing exercises must be completed before throwing every day, and 12 to 15 repetitions should be performed for each exercise. Note that some exercises require the use of two pieces of tubing. Handles and wrist cuffs are optional. Many of the tubing exercises you will find here are designed for the throwing side of the body, however, it should be noted that they can be done on both sides of the body for optimal strength gains.
Straight-Arm Horizontal Adduction
Secure the resistance band at knee height. Hold the band in the pitching hand, keeping the elbow and wrist straight (see figure 10.1a). Pull across the body, stopping at the hip on the opposite side (see figure 10.1b). Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
Straight-Arm Horizontal Abduction
Secure the resistance band at knee height and on the opposite side of the pitching arm. Hold the band in the pitching hand with the thumb facing the ground. Keep the elbow and wrist straight (see figure 10.2a), and pull across the body, pulling the thumb to the sky slightly above shoulder height (see figure 10.2b). Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.