In-Season Training Tip: Use the Sled
By now I hope most people realize how important it is to continue training throughout the baseball season. The difference maker at the amateur levels between the average player and the great player that gets drafted or recruited is almost always strength. At the pro level they’re all strong or they wouldn’t be there.
According to baseball reference, 6 out of the 9 positions in MLB all average over 200lbs and the center fielders aren’t far off. If you’re fast and athletic you may be able to get away with being a 180lb shortstop or second basemen, but you better be an elite fielder and you’re going to be competing against guys like this.
If these guys can find time to get in the gym while playing 162 games in 5 months plus a month of spring training, you’re 2 games per week high school schedule isn’t a valid excuse.
Training in-season is about being smart. You don’t have to hit the gym looking to hit PRs everytime.
Sub-maximal lifting can be great; it’s more important that you’re just getting in there consistently. If you do that over a long period of time you will get stronger without overly taxing your body or getting injured.
The biggest difference between in-season training and off-season training is managing volume and exercise selection. An off-season training session may take up to 90 minutes. During the season it’s ok to get in and out of the gym in 45 minutes.
The reason why exercise selection is important is because we want to manage eccentric stress. The eccentric component of a lift is the controlled lowering of the weight (think downward motion of the squat). This stress promotes muscles fiber tears which is great for hypertrophy, but it will create soreness. During season we want to limit soreness as much as possible.
The sled can be your best friend during season because almost every exercise you perform with it is a concentric-only movement. For example, doing a heavy sled push can be used to build and maintain strength without any eccentric stress because they only work your legs through extension (concentric component). You can load this up pretty heavy and not even feel them the next day. Sled rowing variations do the same to train your upper body, and just about any other exercise you can think of.
Long story short, you still need to find a way to get into the gym during the season. If you’re feeling slow and sluggish after your training sessions and it’s carrying over onto the field you’re going about it the wrong way. If that’d the case, try incorporating the sled into your workouts and eliminate lifts with more eccentric stress.