How Hard Should Baseball Players Train?

How do you know when you should be training hard, and when you should be backing off?

How do you know when you can throw caution to the wind and really go for it in your training?

There are so many factors that determine how hard you can train on a given basis, here are some of the most important:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Mindset
  • Training experience
  • Current work capacity
  • Current recovery capacity
  • Internal hormonal and biochemical health

The list of things that can either help or hinder your ability to train hard could continue going on and on, these are just some of the main standout ones more often than not relevant towards baseball athletes.

Long story short, you can train as hard as you want.

But, if you’re not paying attention to the above variables, you’re not only going to receive very poor results, you’ll probably also get an injury along the way.

There is a time and place within your training where you have the flexibility to kick your own butt to the point where you can barely walk out of the gym, but there is also a time and a place to be a lot smarter about what you’re doing and work within your optimal work capacity, and not your maximum work capacity.

This means, yes, there are times in a baseball athletes training periodization where he/she should ABSOLUTELY leave gas in the tank once they have completed their workout.

Baseball Training Periodization

The time of the year is of critical importance when it comes to choosing when and where baseball athletes should be pressing the gas pedal or pumping the brakes.

In all cases, the timing of your competitive season will determine the intensity of your workout sessions. It will also determine what type of focus those workouts will have.

If it’s immediately after the season, then you’ll need a short break from everything until you jump into a training program that’s going to have you rebuilding the muscle tissue that you likely lost throughout the high-demands of the in-season.

Although you need muscle growth post-season, it is not the time nor the place to do very heavy squats, deadlifts, power cleans, or any major movement.

It’s unfortunate, but I hear of athletes all the time doing a 1-Rep Max (1RM) test year round, month after month with no account for how much stress this adds to a baseball players body and mind.

1RM testing should be reserved for powerlifters or very advanced lifters, as it is much more specific to their sport. This has nothing to do with baseball, and if you need predictive measurements you can do them much safer with a 5RM test instead of a 1RM test.

This is especially true for the baseball athletes out there who are relatively inexperienced when it comes to lifting heavy weights.

New trainees do not have the coordination, let alone the experience, to lift these all-out 1RM’s. Beyond this, the technique of these 1RM tests is normally terrible, which leads to more injury risk and crap results.

I know I might sound harsh right now, but it’s infuriating when you see some random high school coach put his entire team through one cookie-cutter program without considering the individual needs of the athletes or the specificity of their position out on the field.

When common sense isn’t implemented into a training program design, the athletes end up getting hurt — and nothing gets me more fired up then when an amateur coach gets a baseball player hurt from an out-of-competition stupid reason.

You are supposed to be helping them, not hurting them!

Testing and Progression

Baseball players can easily measure their progress week to week, month to month, and year to year without ever doing 1RM tests.

There has been this wave of powerlifting popularity in the past 10 years or so and it’s making strength and conditioning coaches think that powerlifting is the basis for all sport specific program design.

It’s a part of it, but it is definitely not all of it. Not by a long shot.

In addition to tracking your weights lifted each session, strength gains can also be seen through improvements in technique. The ability to move the same weight but faster then before is also a sign of improved strength.

Listen To Your Body

At the end of the day, you must always learn to think for yourself.

Do NOT blindly copy anybody else’s advice, not even mine.

When you blindly follow programs from a random article or magazine without determining the above factors of stress, nutrition, and the rest — you may be doing yourself a greater disservice for your performance then you may think.

Always weigh the pro’s and con’s according to what YOU need right now in this moment of your yearly periodization.

Lead yourself, become a critical thinker, and take time to truly think about your programming decisions.

The goal of a baseball athlete should always be to improve body composition, reduce injuries, get stronger, improve mobility, and improve all sport specific functional outputs such as throwing, running, and jumping.

If you see an exercise that doesn’t have an explainable connection to improving your performance out on the field (e.g. wobble board squats), then why are you doing it?

“Ok, I get it Dan. This all makes perfect sense, but do you have some basic guidelines I should follow to get started?”

I’m glad you asked!


In the pre-season era is where you want to push your training intensity very high and do the movements that are generally specific to baseball performance.

Then, as the season starts to get much closer, reduce the overall volume of the work you’re performing while simultaneously increasing the specificity of your exercise selection.

From here, do a deload one week before the season start to allow for a “taper and peak” effect to take place and have you dominating out on the field when it’s time for the season the start.


During the season you have to place a huge emphasis on autoregulation.

Autoregulation is you being objectively honest with yourself and autoregulating the intensity at which you perform your in-season workouts.

In most cases most of the time, baseball athletes need to steeply reduce their training volume to ensure maximum recovery and optimal performance during game time.

This is also where it would be wise for you to add in additional recovery methods such as contrast showers, massages, lots of sleep, and epsom salt baths.

Additionally, it’s wise to deload prior to major competitions and tournaments — but only do this twice during the season. Pick the two most important competitions, deload one week before those two, and then stick to your standard autoregulatory guidelines beyond that.


Once the season ends, congratulate yourself by giving yourself a week off of ALL training.

No cardio, no lifting, no baseball, no anything.

If you’re a coach, you should make this week off mandatory for your athletes. It will rejuvenate both their body and mind from the intense stressors of the grueling baseball season.

Then, once training begins, stay away from directly loading the spine with heavy work until they have a few weeks under their belt of reinstating proper movement mechanics. Something that I always say to the strength and conditioning coaches who intern with me is:

You need to learn it before you load it.

Meaning, if you have somebody who is struggling to do a bodyweight squat below parallel, why the heck are you adding a barbell and weight on top of that!?

You’re asking for injury and also reinforcing bad movement habits.

Rebuild technique and movement quality, add on the lost muscle mass from the season using moderate weights only — and then intensely address whatever needs to be worked on the most for that athlete once they are ready for it.


I know a lot of people who think they are cool by saying the phrase “There is no offseason!”

But for baseball athletes, this is pretty much the truth.

Your off-season is very short, and your in-season is incredibly long. And even during your off-season you’re still normally staying incredibly active.

Baseball players are beasts, there’s no if’s- and’s- or but’s about it.

Becoming the best baseball player you can be is a year-round commitment. But this time of year is oftentimes the absolute safest time of the year for you to turn up the gears and really push hard with your training.

Provided you’re not in some intense off-season competition circuit, you’ve got a free pass to go crush the gym and make the biggest gains you possibly can without having to worry about playing a game the next day.

Focus on building your body, building your strength, reducing your body fat, and building that mental toughness you need to reach your potential.

Take advantage of this time. It won’t come for another year.

Also, you don’t need to be trapped in a squat rack all off-season. I have found that the athletes who stay active and “play” during the off-season are the ones who are usually the most athletic and make the best gains.

This means you should actively engage in things like surfing, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, in addition to your regularly scheduled baseball weight training program.

It will help reduce stress, it will help you recover better, and it will ultimately make you a better baseball player.

Final Thoughts

We are all very, very different from each other, and we need to always be concerned with these factors when determine how hard we should train:

  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Mindset
  • Training experience
  • Current work capacity
  • Current recovery capacity
  • Internal hormonal and biochemical health

Beyond this, even things like your personality type can impact what is the best training intensity for you.

But, in my experience working with baseball athletes, if you can follow my above guidelines specific to baseball training periodization…you will be off to a blazing start.

Are you looking for a completely “done for you” baseball specific program to improve your performance?

Then I have what you’re missing, check out the selection of high-performance baseball training programs and start dominating your league today!

About the author

Dan Garner

Dan Garner is the head strength coach and nutrition specialist at He has coached baseball players and other athletes at all levels from youth to MLB players. Garner holds many educational credentials and has been mentored by some of the top coaches in the world.

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