I’m certain every baseball player on the planet who has done any form of training is familiar with the term core, but nearly all of them (including their coaches) are unfamiliar that it was a term coined over 30 years ago to describe the muscles that make up the center of the body and control the:
Put another way, your core is not just your abs; rather, it consists of all the muscles in your torso, including your:
- Lower back
- Deep hip muscles
Of course, you are likely already working your chest, shoulders, back, and glutes — so we don’t need to visit that within this article today.
What I instead want to talk about today is how the core connects itself to baseball performance, and how you can use proper baseball specific core training to become a better baseball player.
The Four Horseman
When it comes to making sure you’re covering all your bases (great pun right? I’m friggin’ hilarious) in terms of a complete approach to core training, you need to design programs and workouts that knock all four horsemen down:
- Anterior core training
- Lateral core training
- Rotational core training
- Posterior core training
If you want to ensure you have a comprehensive approach to core training for baseball, your program must hit all four of these heads — no exceptions.
This approach creates a well-rounded routine that covers all of the major types of movements performed by your core and coordinates the muscles that make those movements possible.
Clearing The Air
Before moving forward, I want to first clear the air by making a very clear statement regarding compound lifts in the gym.
You need to approach your core training in the above manner, don’t fall into the consistent myth that squats and deadlifts provide enough training stimulus for the core to maximally develop.
This is wrong on a multitude of levels.
Although research has shown that both the squat and the deadlift are great core exercises, you have to ask yourself:
Ok cool, are they the ONLY core exercise then?
Or, do they hit a couple of the horsemen well, but not the others?
When you look at the research you quickly find out that these major movements activate the posterior core muscles very effectively (glutes, lumbar/spinal stabilizers), but don’t activate the anterior muscles as effectively as anterior specific exercises.
It also doesn’t take a lot of research to tell you that the activation of the rotational muscles isn’t great either, since no rotation is happening at all during the movements.
Much of this should be obvious to the educated strength and conditioning coach as both squats and deadlifts drive the torso forward into flexion, which automatically necessitates the need for constant work by the posterior core to resist that force and maintain your posture.
So, squats and deadlifts may not provide sufficient stimulus to train the anterior and rotational core muscles; but, let’s not put words in my mouth and say that i’m saying these exercises are useless.
They are a fundamental part of any baseball program, just don’t think you’re covering all of your core training with them as well.
Total Body Kinetic Chain Expression
In a very real sense, the core is what allows you to convert your “gym strength” into “baseball strength”
To continue with the examples above regarding compound lower body exercises, the lower body plays a vital role in producing power within baseball specific sport skill expression.
What’s unique is that although these big movements don’t work the rotating muscles of the core, they potentiate the power that those rotational muscles can express in a game setting.
All sport skills expression is rooted in power potential, and all power is created from the ground up.
You generate power in your lower body and hips, that power is then transferred through a strong and stable core to ultimately be expressed through the arms.
For example, in boxing you can see they actually load their legs and rotate their hips for power punches. So, although a punch looks like just the arms are moving, it is actually a total body movement to get real KO power.
Same thing for baseball.
Both throwing and swinging have incredible rotational power components to them, but the entire kinetic chain must be strong in order to reach full expression.
The legs must be strong to generate the power, the hips/core must be strong enough the be able to handle that power potential and rotationally transfer it into the arms, and then finally, the arms must be strong enough in order to absorb that power potential and point it in the right direction.
Put very simply, the core connects the upper body to the lower body — and if you have a weakened core then it will cause “energy leaks” to be dispersed in your movements.
If your legs have the power potential to hit home runs, but your core only has the power transferability to allow you to hit infield balls — then 10 times out of 10 you will hit infield balls because you cannot maximally express the power that the rest of your body can generate.
This goes for pitching, throwing, hitting, and then also locomotive acts as well such as speed, conditioning, and agility — the core is involved in them all.
By the way, ANY muscle in your kinetic chain can cause an energy leak.
So if you want to have the best foundation possible in order to maximally express your skill set then you need to have a strong upper body, lower body, and core. There’s no way around it.
Core Workout for Baseball
A1: V-Ups x 10
A2: Side plank lifts x 10/side
A3: Alternating elbow-to-knee sit ups x 10/side
A4: Superman hold x 20-30 seconds
A5: Plank with lower body rotations x 10/side
Repeat this circuit for 3 rounds total, don’t rest at all in between exercises, but rest 2 minutes between performing full circuits.
You can do this workout up to two times per week as a “finisher” to one of your current lower body workouts in order to use the four horsemen to blow your baseball performance levels up.
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