Three-time MLB all-star Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen ranks among baseball’s top 15 in stolen bases this season. (So far, he’s at 24 for the season and closed out 2012 with 20.) The secret to the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder’s base-stealing success: explosive power—a combo of quickness and force that gives athletes an edge, whether they’re rounding the bases in baseball or leading a fast break in basketball. But it’s not just for the field or court. In the gym, explosiveness can help you perfect dynamic moves like snatches and clean and jerks. So, what’s the best way to improve your power output? We chatted with Pirates strength and conditioning coordinator Brendon Huttmann, who shared these five tips.
Lift lighter weights
Because McCutchen’s body gets so much wear and tear over the 162-game regular season, Huttmann carefully tracks McCutchen’s sets, reps, and how much weight he’s lifting. The key is to not always lift at your max load; lifting under your max allows you to maintain power.
Maintain mobility and stability
Even when you’re performing the most basic moves, do them right, and utilize your body’s full range of motion. For example, when doing a squat, pay attention to your form: feet a little more than shoulder-width apart; torso and shoulders upright; head and eyes forward. Do not shorten movements. Sloppy form can make your muscles tighten up and decrease explosiveness.
Tend to your muscle tissue
Foam rollers are your friend, and consistent stretching and recovery are essential to maintaining muscle tissue. The healthier your muscle tissue, the easier it is to practice and perform come game time.
Rev your engine
In addition to pre-game stretching, McCutchen does two full-speed sprints before he heads to the dugout to start a game. Your body has to be warmed up to top speed in order to move at top speed during a game.
Sleep on it
This one seems obvious, but a good night’s rest is essential to regenerating muscle and maintaining power. To fall asleep faster, Huttmann suggests avoiding electronics an hour before going to bed.