For a hitter, training for strength and power to hit the ball farther is the name of the game. The combination of intentionally focused work on the field and in the cage, intelligent training in the weight room, and recovering properly will benefit the hitter by enhancing their performance.
Selecting the correct weight room exercises is critical to help improve strength and power that will increase bat speed and hitting power.
In this article, I will be going over the 9 best exercises to hit the baseball father, the speed-strength continuum, and a message from a professional baseball player to help you hit bombs!
Exercises To Hit A Baseball Farther
1. Clean Pull
The Clean Pull is one of my favorite exercises to train for power development. This dynamic movement is derived from the Olympic lifts which focus on full body power and triple extension from the ankles, knees, and hips.
The clean pull is a great movement that helps the hitter focus on full body tension, driving through the legs and hips, and being explosive.
Approach the barbell with your feet at hip width. Hinge at the waist and bend the knee until you can grip the barbell. Set your back, pull the shoulder blades back, and keep a nice flat, neutral spine. Brace the core and pull the slack out of the bar.
Initiate the pull to the knee.
You should be gaining speed as you approach the knee. Once you are at the knee, explosively jump and extend the hips. Your feet may come off the ground briefly.
Reset each rep from the ground and focus on being as explosive as possible each rep.
2. Trap Bar Pulls
A great alternative for the clean pull is the Trap Bar Pull. The idea is the same. Be explosive and try to jump and move the trap bar as fast as possible. This is a good alternative for an athlete who may be new to the gym but is ready to train with a weighted jump variation.
Pro Tip: Trap Bars, also known as Hex Bars, can vary quite a bit in weight. Keep this in mind if you’re working with a bar you’re not familiar with.
3. Front Squat
Having a strong lower half will help you hit the baseball farther. The front squat is one of my favorite bilateral squat patterns for baseball players to develop leg strength. It trains the lower half to push, the anterior core to brace, and the shoulders to stabilize.
Focus on being explosive every single rep. Even if you are working with a weight that is heavy, you should be trying to move the barbell as fast and explosively as possible.
As your absolute strength increases, the lighter weights will move faster. You will be more explosive at lighter weights, relative to your absolute strength. But this means you have to train intentionally. Even when just warming up. Move each rep like it is a 1 rep max.
Back Squat Vs. Front Squat
I want to say here that I have no problem with Back Squats for hitters. In general, I would progress the lifter from a front squat phase into a back squat phase in the off-season.
I think what is most important is progressive overload, balancing fatigue (field work, weight room work, diet, and rest). If a hitter is more comfortable with Back Squatts and finds that this movement helps them more, by all means, do it!
Get those squats in and crush some baseballs!
4. Lateral Lunge
The lateral lunge is one of my favorite single-leg exercises for hitters. I love how sport specific it is to moving laterally.
When performing the lateral lunge, once you’ve reached the end range on the way down, explode back up to the starting position. Drive that foot into the ground and push yourself back up as fast as you can. This will train your fast twitch muscle fibers in the same specific plane of motion as hitting.
5. Dumbbell Bench Press
A stronger upper body is obviously going to help us drive the baseball farther. My favorite horizontal pressing movement for hitters is the dumbbell bench press. This is a great movement to help increase strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
There are also a lot of great variations to mix into your training. Here are a few:
- Alternating dumbbell bench press
- Single arm dumbbell bench press
- Incline dumbbell bench press (15-45 degree angle)
- Dumbbell floor press
A strong posterior chain (Upper back, rear delts, lats, lower back, hamstrings, glutes) is important to keep the body balanced and healthy. The pull-up is a great exercise to train the lats, upper back, grip, and core.
Having a strong back and grip will help the hitter rotate through the core and deliver the barrel to the ball with as much force as possible.
7. Inverted Rows
If you’re not ready for pull-ups, don’t worry! Start with inverted rows. Progressively do more reps until you can do 20 perfect reps. Start to work the bar height down until you are able to do feet elevated inverted rows.
Another good alternative is to use an exercise band or exercise partner to help you do your pull-ups. Focus on the eccentric lowering portion of the lift and the isometric hold with your chin over the bar.
8. Medicine Ball Side Toss (for distance)
Force is plane specific. You can work to get very strong with a squat and bench press but if you are not applying this strength and power in the correct plane of motion, you may not see your power increase as much as it possibly can.
Medicine ball movements are a hitter’s best friend for increasing sport-specific power. The medicine ball side toss for distance is one of my favorite exercises because of how specific it is to the sport, especially a baseball swing.
Take a stance similar to the one you would have in the batter’s box. Hold the med ball with open palms. Gain momentum with a counter movement and load the back hip. From here, rotate and toss the ball as far as you can (This movement can also be done with a wall).
The emphasis here is on the core and hips delivering out at a launch angle similar to what we would see on the field during a baseball swing. Do not “throw” the ball.
Each repetition should be fast and explosive. You’re essentially trying to hit a home run. Take pride in setting a distance record. Keep track of each attempt!
9. Med Ball Side Toss (into the wall)
This is by far my favorite movement for hitters. This is as specific as you can get to the rotational power needed in baseball and therefore very important.
Once again, take a stance that you would take in the batter’s box. Hold the medicine ball with open palms. Gain momentum with a counter movement and load the back hip. From here, rotate and toss the ball as hard as you can into the wall. Focus on those hips and core delivering that medicine ball with speed!
I would not focus on catching the ball off the wall. Each repetition should be fast and explosive. Take pride in breaking some med balls here!
The speed-strength continuum should be taken into consideration when training for any sport.
For hitters, this is an important topic because when we are talking about hitting the ball father, we are talking about bat speed. It’s great to be strong but if your bat speed is slow and you continue to train slow, don’t be surprised when your baseball swing isn’t explosive and the ball isn’t traveling as far as you’d like.
What You Need to Know:
Force is up and velocity is down (90-100% of 1 rep max) There is a time for this. In the off-season, training for absolute strength is a great idea.
If our absolute strength goes up, our relative strength goes up with lighter loads. But we do need to transition out of this phase when we move into the fall season and in-season regiments.
Force is still up but velocity comes up as well (80-90% of 1 rep max). Another great phase of training for hitters to benefit from.
This is where your clean pulls, speed squats, and weighted jumps are heavier but you’re focusing on creating as much power as possible. Moving a moderately heavy weight as fast as possible will correlate to being explosive on the field.
Force continues to come down but velocity is up (30-60% of 1 rep max). As we get closer to being in season, hitters will need to train with a lighter weight and plyometrics but still focus on moving with as much velocity as possible.
Force is way down but velocity is way up (<30% of 1 rep max). Speed! This is a great phase for baseball players to focus on sprints, change of direction sprints, and med ball throws.
A Message From A Pro
“Balance is key. Strength, power, and speed need to be trained in conjunction with each other. Train the posterior chain, clean pulls, squats, side lunges, med ball throws, and dumbbell bench. Every rep needs to be explosive. Train slow and you will become slow. Take pride in every rep and try to be explosive in every exercise that you perform!”
- Position: Shortstop and Second base
- Elon University: Team MVP, First Team All-Conference
- Drafted by Seattle Mariners in 2018
- Baltimore Orioles organization 2019-2022
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Training to hit a baseball farther really comes down to building a foundational base of strength, both leg strength and upper body strength. Then, learn how to utilize that strength into powerful movements that will help improve bat speed and hitting power.
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