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MVP Joey Votto

How the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman stays at the top of his game

In our June/July issue, we gave you a look at the off-season training routine of Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. The defending NL MVP put in this winter's work down in Bradenton, FL, at the IMG Baseball Academy with his longtime trainer, Corey Stenstrup.

Most of Votto's training revolves around making his body more compliant, which means he's drawing more strength from his physique, rather than spend his sessions adding more bulk. "If I got him to 260 pounds and he was really strong," says Stenstrup, "that does not mean he's going to the hit the ball any better." But if he can tap into his physique and transfer more force, he will.

So far, Votto is off to a great start in 2011—and training is no small part of his success. "Joey's an athlete," says Stenstrup. "Yes, he's a professional hitter, but he's an athlete."

So to train him as an athlete, Stenstrup has Votto warm up with a series of activation exercises made to get his muscles ready to fire. Then, he starts on the Powerplate. Votto performs a series of squats on the vibrating platform, adding more complicated adjustments to each set. The first is a bodyweight squat, then weighted with cables, then a squat with an overhead press, and finally a squat with lateral raises.

The Powerplate circuit, like the rest of his exercises, is completed without shoes. "We want to make sure he develops force from the ground," says Stenstrup, "and it has a clean and efficient transfer through his body."

Afterward, it's outside for some mobility work, 20 minutes of shuffles, stretches and movements. Then, Votto performs medball throws in a lunge position. He'll do two sets of 10-15 reps on each side, as many as 20 if he has that many in him that day. Votto keeps his lower body still, generating all power from twisting.

Stenstrup uses the concept of layering in his workouts with Votto, which basically means adding in different types of movements in between sets of other exercises. They're not true supersets, but they function in a similar way. Votto will layer in posture work with the kettlebell throws, holding a warrior position for about 20 seconds on each side with a Swiss ball held up over his head.

For the last group of exercises, Votto combines single DB cleans with sandbell slams, and ring pulls with grind pushups. The cleans are done with a heavy dumbbell while Votto stands on sand bells, and the grid pushup is weighted with a sandbag on his back. To finish this session up, he'll do some shoulder mobility work, and finish with a sandball shoulder combo.

Here's a breakdown of Votto's workout:

Powerplate, one set each:

Bodyweight squat
Squat with cables
Squat overhead press combo
Squat lateral raise combo

Movement drills: ­low-grade plyometrics (20 minutes)

Medball angled half lunge multi-response throws
(2x10-15)

Layer core/posture pose- 20sec/side

Single DB clean (sandbell surface): 2-4 reps per set
Sandbell windmill slams: 2-4 reps per set each side

Ring pulls-knee tuck (two reps at a time): 3-6 reps per set
Grid push up+2 pos 3sec iso (sandbell on upper torso): 3-6 per set

Single arm sandball shoulder combo: 6 each arm/each slot (one set)

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