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7 Exercises NOT to do!

and 3 that you should be doing, according to SCIENCE!

Video and explanations of how we trained a pro player below

Just Go Get Stronger -

Ever heard someone say this "if you want to hit or throw harder, just go lift some weights.”

Understand that many of your favorite strength training exercises may actually be reducing your hip & spine flexibility, which are key in your ability to increase arm & bat speed.

7 Most Ineffective Exercises


3 that are super effective

1. Bench press

2. Bicep curls

3. Pull downs

4. Lateral raise

5. Shoulder press

6. Pull ups

7. Dips


Sport Specific Training -

How Often do those Motions Occur in Hitting or Throwing?

If you said to yourself…. hey this is like half the exercises you can do in the gym…. yes…. that's true. The point is, these exercises are great for getting big and looking awesome in the mirror or on the beach. Each of them will help you gain general strength & size, but in non-functional ways (they often don't create useable strength in movements) that will carry-over into your hitting & throwing performance.

Aside from the fact that getting big, without working on flexibility, can reduce range of motion and related power in the hips, spine and shoulders, these exercises also don’t work in the same specific “planes” of motions necessary for increasing arm & bat speed.

Ok yes, there is something to be said about gaining size and overall strength. To an extent, gaining size and general strength is needed to help create greater muscle force which is related to velocity, and can also be beneficial (depending on the exercise) in reducing injury risk. However, for those of you that know the related sports science, we need to remember the relationship between force & velocity.

Related Sports Science

Strength vs Speed -

Are you Building Slow Weight Room Strength or Explosive Sports Power?

Muscle Force & Size

When you lift a weight, the muscles being used to lift the weight create forces. When the working muscles create enough force, the forces pulling up on the object will lift the weight.

bicep curl

If it was all about force development, you would want to just build the muscles as big and strong as possible to create maximum force (maximum strength). But in sports activities, such as hitting & throwing, there’s a problem with just trying to build the biggest, strongest muscle(s). You may be developing big, strong SLOW muscles.

highly muscled guy

Force vs Velocity

There’s an inverse relationship between force & velocity.

As an athlete lifts heavier weights, the research clearly shows that the speed of the movement (the speed the object lifted), actually goes down! So in simple terms, the heavier the weight is, the slower the weight will be lifted. Conversely, the lighter the load is, the faster the load can be lifted...

force vs velocity curve

In the graph above, you’ll see that as the muscle forces increase, you’ll see two points, "a" & "b". Point "a" is an athlete that works on just lifting more and more weight but because they move the heavier weights slowly their muscles adapt by getting stronger but they can't generate much speed.

If your sport is lifting weights to get bigger (build size and pure strength), who cares, not a big deal. If you’re an athlete, who is lifting weights to increase your arm and/or bat speed, it’s a big problem!

You see if you continue to train to just get bigger & stronger, but you don’t focus on the specific technique of how to perform the lift to move the load or more importantly the bat, your arm or ball faster against resistance, you will build what we call “Slow Strength”. In practical terms, this means you may actually decrease your arm & bat speed versus increase it as your strength and size increase.

Fast or Speed Strength

With athletic or sports movements, we do want to get stronger, but we want to develop fast strength that will actually increase bat & arm speed.

Rate of Force Development

When building athletic or sports strength, we want to focus more on how fast you can develop force in a muscle, or more importantly in a specific sports movement(s) such as hitting and/or throwing. We want to train muscles to build strength very fast (explosive strength) which is referred to in the sports science world as the rate of force development.

rate of force development graph

In figure 2 above, there are three curves: A) an untrained individual, B) an athlete that did heavy strength training only (slow strength), and C) an athlete that lifted weights with more speed (fast strength). Their muscle force was measured at 200 milliseconds into a lift and then graphed.

The curves shows that the A) untrained athlete was the weakest and had developed less force 200 milliseconds into the lift (he was the least explosive of the three athletes); B) the athlete who trained slowly with heavy resistance, only developed his strength faster than the untrained athlete, but slower than C) the athlete who performed faster more ballistic strength training movements which showed that he developed his maximum force faster than the other two athletes (he was more explosive and had strength that would be more beneficial for an athlete trying to hit or throw faster and/or with more power).

baseball hitter 2

Sports Movements Happen Fast

In sports movements like hitting & throwing, the entire sports movement occurs in less than a second. The amount of time the muscles are actually increasing their forces, (to overcome the weight, load, ball or bat), and increase the speed of the bat and/or ball is only about 2-3 tenths of a second (really fast), and it occurs at the start of the hitting or throwing movement.

How Does It Change Our Exercises?

So we want to choose strength exercises that develop force fast so the strength can actually help the athlete move the bat, arms and ball fast (so it's specific to hitting and/or throwing).

baseball pitcher

For sports movements, our focus in the weight room is to design a strength training program and choose specific strength exercises that train muscles to increase the rate of force development so it will improve sports performance.

Train Movements Not Muscles

Exercises like bicep curls do strengthen the bicep muscles and can make them bigger. However the exercise you choose to train the biceps may or may not carry-over into improved arm or bat speed, especially an exercise like a bicep curl.

When you're focused on training muscles to just get bigger & stronger, this is more of a body building type mentality that will likely result in building slow weight room strength versus useable athletic or sports strength.

baseball hitter

When you focus on training or strengthening a movement (such as the hitting and/or throwing movement), if you choose the correct type of exercise you will actually train all the muscles that make the movement happen, at the same time, and most importantly in a way that will strengthen and speed the movements as you swing the bat or throw the ball. This will really help transfer the strength gains in the muscles over to the actual sports movement (hitting or throwing) to actually increase bat or arm speed. It will also reduce the amount of time you have to spend lifting weights versus working on your skills of hitting and throwing.

baseball player training in pc360 system

Training movements not muscles is performed when an athlete performs their sports movement (hitting or throwing) and then adds resistance training (strengthening) to the movement. This strengthens the sports movement and is the best & fastest way to improve sports performance, especially something as specific as hitting and/or throwing a baseball.


Back to that “plane” point. What does that mean? Short story, that means you should be doing exercises that directly mimic the motions of the activity you are attempting to perform.

Most of those 7 bad exercises mentioned above only perform up and down motions, or push or pull motions with the arms or legs….they are great exercises to train sports movements because they are only training a small portion of the actual movements that happen in the hitting or throwing motions.

Hitting & Throwing


Linear, Vertical & Rotational Movements

In baseball hitting & throwing movements, the athlete needs to move their body forwards (linear), then the front leg (left leg) pushes up and backwards (vertical) and then they turn or rotate their hips, spine & shoulders (rotational). So if the hitting & throwing movements include linear, vertical & rotational movements, shouldn't the training (both skill & strength) also strengthen in these same directions & movements? The answer is YES!

Here are our 3 favorite exercises to train all the movements of baseball hitting in a highly specific way that maximizes carry-over into actual hitting.

Exercise #1 - Explosive Linear Movement

This is a professional player we have trained in the offseason for years.

Hear his thoughts on this drill at video marker 2:03

The linear movement is the first move the lower half makes in the baseball swing or the forward pitching motion. To strengthen the muscles to promote a more powerful first move, we attach rubber resistance tubing to our hip trainer and have the athletes do an explosive "side hop!" This motion engages the muscles needed to create the most functional first motion in the baseball hitting and throwing motion.

Exercise 2 - Resisted Hip Training

This is a professional player we have trained in the offseason for years.

Hear his thoughts on this drill at video marker 1:58

The second step in the hitting or throwing training is the lower half rotating and subsequently pulling the top half of the body and arms through to complete the rotational motion. To strengthen this rotational movement, we attach the resistance bands across the front of the hips to "resist" the turn of the hips. Essentially, this is strength training of the muscles that turn the hips to increase power & speed! But in this exercise, we are doing our strength training in the "plane" of the actual motion of the hitting and throwing motion, and we are doing it fast, explosively.

Once the bands are removed, athletes will notice that their hips come flying through explosively & effortlessly in the correct movement sequence of a powerful baseball swing. Like any strength training exercise, this exercise performed over time with increasing loads from the resistance bands, will strengthen the muscles responsible for the swing to work with more force, as well as with more power & speed to ultimately increase bat power & speed.

Exercise #3 - Assisted Hip Training

This is a professional player we have trained in the offseason for years.

Hear his thoughts on this drill at video marker 1:51

In this third exercise, we attach the resistance bands to the opposite side of the hips. The athlete steps out away from the bands anchor point and performs the normal hitting and throwing motions and this time, instead of the bands resisting the turn, they actually assist the hip turn. In this exercise the hips actually are trained to move faster than they can using just the athletes power. This is often referred to as "assisted" or "overspeed" training.



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