If a pitcher is looking to add speed to his fastball, then the average fan might expect him to do upper-body workouts. But if you really want to build strength in your arm and get your pitches zipping like Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw or Mets goliath Noah Syndergaard, you’ll need to focus on more than just your arms.
“The most important are mobility and stability in your shoulders and hips, 'pillar' stability, and overall upper and lower-body strength," says Chang Lee, a performance manager with EXOS. That's because pitching a baseball is all about transferring power from your legs all the way up through your arm. So if you want to excel on the mound—and decrease the risk of injuries—you’ll need to work hard on not just your shoulders, throwing arm, and back, but also your hips, legs, and hamstrings.
Pitching speed is directly proportional with arm speed, rather than the strength of isolated muscles like your biceps or triceps. That means pitchers should focus on 'pillar strength'—the area between your shoulders and hips—by doing shoulder stability exercises, lower body strength work, and propulsive exercises to increase rotational power, Lee says. By focusing on those movements, pitchers can create proper kinetic linking through lower body, pillar, and arm work, which in turn creates a whip-like action that gets the ball moving faster.
Another factor? Range of motion. “If mobility is limited, then that in turn limits strength and power," Lee says. "Think of an athlete as a car. An individual might have a very powerful V12 engine, but lack of mobility would be like the car being stuck in first gear. Another athlete might have a smaller V6 engine, but full mobility, which would result in allowing him to use all gears and get to a higher speed with more efficiency.”
Scroll through the gallery for a workout program consisting of 10 exercises that can help pitchers increase their pitch speed and arm power through mobility, stability, upper body, lower body, and rotational moves.