While some consider baseball a relatively leisurely sport to watch, it is anything but. It takes a dazzling mix of strength, flexibility, and coordination. And the pitcher is the most active player on the team. Every game, a starting pitcher delivers 80-100 pitches at maximum or near-maximum effort.
The pitch is an anaerobic activity that relies on the ATP-PCr system during delivery. And because during the game, pitchers reach 87% of their age-predicted maximum heart rate, that means they must be aerobically fit, too.
David Lintner, MD, has been the sports medicine doctor for the Houston Astros since 1994. At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, in Baytown and Houston, Texas, he offers a graduated throwing program that gets you ready for the demands of training and play.
If you’re a pitcher who wants to get the most out of your throws and career, daily exercise is essential. Following are some of the maintenance and strength-building exercises Dr. Lintner recommends to keep your entire body, including your throwing arm, strong.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Popular among biohackers and lay fitness fanatics, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are one of the most efficient ways to improve your aerobic capacity. One HIIT session between each pitching outing may be enough to help maintain aerobic fitness and maximize recovery after a game.
The main point to remember with HIIT is to perform at maximum intensity seconds during the active phase: Sprint, do burpees or jumping jacks, or any aerobic activity. First, warm up. Then:
- Perform at 100% for 35 seconds
- Rest for 25 seconds
- Repeat for 10 rounds
A HIIT workout is taxing and shouldn’t be performed every day. If you don’t feel like once per pitching session is enough, be sure to leave at least a day’s recovery between HIIT sessions.
Increase shoulder mobility
Check out our video page for this and other important shoulder exercises.
Stabilize shoulders with YTW
Lean on an exercise ball at your hips with your legs straight back. Extend your arms toward the ground in a Y-shape at a 45-degree angle with your body. With your palms facing each other, raise your arms up to your head, then back down to starting position.
Keeping your position on the exercise ball, extend your arms out to the sides forming a T. Raise your arms up towards your head, hold for a second, then return to the starting position.
Maintaining your position on the exercise ball, bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle with your fists facing forward. Raise your arms towards your head. Hold for a beat, then return to the starting position.
Do three sets of 15 reps for each move, resting for 45-120 seconds between sets.
Strengthen rotator cuff with shoulder rotation
Stand with the right side of your body facing a cable pulley machine. With the cable at hip level, grab it with your left hand, forming a right angle with your body.
Next, rotate your arm away from your body and then back to the start position. Keep your elbow at the side of your body during the move. Do three sets of 15 reps for each arm, resting 45 -120 seconds between sets.
Check out the video on shoulder exercises for throwers (level 1 and level 2) on www.drlintner.com. You can find exercises for your shoulder, scapula, and more.
To stay strong, fit and uninjured, find the best exercises for your pitching arm, ask about our graduated pitching program to get you in shape for spring training by contacting our office.