As baseball tries to emerge from its era of suspicion, Texas-bred Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett--with the game's most feared right arm--has become the perfect antidote.
How Josh Beckett Trains
Starting pitchers were once the marathon men of baseball. They were always running long lopes in the outfield in between starts in preparation for the rigors of pitching for several innings in baseball's summer heat. Josh Beckett sprints.
Each pitching motion, he explains, requires about three seconds of intense effort, followed by about 12 seconds of recovery time. So his cardio workouts are designed to replicate that cycle. "We try to train my body to recover during those 12 seconds," he says. "We do about three seconds, and then try to recover in 12."
His workout includes heavy reps with dumbbells (heavier for biceps, lighter for exercises that replicate the pitching motion) and a medicine ball. Many exercises are done while balanced on a Swiss ball.
He tries to arrive at spring training in good cardio shape, then use the prep time to get his arm ready for the season's grind. "What you do during the offseason is, first, build a base," he said. "That takes about three weeks, and then you try to get as strong as you can before you go to spring training. Once you get there, you taper down and it's just a maintenance program for the next six or seven months."
Conditioning is vital because the effort required to throw as hard as Beckett does for seven months is taxing on his entire body. "People have always said about me: 'Oh, his pitching looks effortless,'" he said. "It ain't effortless. I put out max effort. I try to throw the damn thing as hard as I can. That's my demeanor, and it's like this: My job is to execute quality pitches consecutively until the game is over or somebody takes the ball out of my hand. That's the philosophy I live by."