Question: I’m 14 and have been going to the gym to get stronger for baseball. I’m struggling with getting my bench press better. Do you have any advice for getting a bigger bench?
Answer: Your determination to improve your bench press is admirable but misguided if your end goal is to become a better baseball player.
While the bench is a good exercise it’s not productive for baseball and may even be counterproductive. Here’s why. The rotator cuff isn’t a stable joint. The position the bar places the humerus closes the space between the supraspinatus and a acromion increasing the potential for an impingement. Also the exercise locks down your shoulder blades which are fully extended when you throw.
The bench press is responsible for more shoulder injuries than any other exercise. You should take it off of your training list. Replace it with dumbbell presses which can be done using a parallel grip that allows more movement for your shoulder blades and doesn’t rotate the humeral head lowering the risk of an impingement. To increase the stress on your core do these one arm at a time with your unloaded arm in the extended position.
Push ups are an excellent alternative as well and can be done using a variety of angles to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
What will provide you with more power and explosiveness in baseball is working your core and legs. We utilize “3-D” core work by combining multiple ab exercises into a sequence for strength and rotation. Squats, single leg squats, sled drivers, knee band drivers, leg curls, glute/ham exercises and deadlifts build the strength you’ll need In your legs and core.
Plyometrics and explosive exercises improve neural responsiveness and speed.
You need to do pulldowns, dumbbell rows and other back exercises along with lateral and shoulder strengthening exercises to strengthen your rotator cuffs for the wear and tear they will experience on the ball field.
Forearm work and stretching to improve flexibility finish off your program.
Put these all together to get the most from your off season workouts.
God bless and keep training,