Should Pitchers Bench Press?

I get this question pretty regularly, and right out of the gate, I’m going to say NO!…Especially if you’re this guy…  If you think about the bench press, and the functionality of the movement, it really serves no purpose on the baseball field.  If I’m a pitcher, and I’m trying to get something out of my chest/shoulder area, what are my goals in the weight room?

  1. Shoulder Health –  If I don’t have a healthy shoulder, I can’t pitch, plain and simple.  The bench press won’t necessarily injure your shoulder, but you’re not putting it in a good position to be successful, and transfer over to the baseball field.
  2. Balance/Equality – A lot of shoulder AND elbow injuries are due to weaknesses in the scapula.  A lot of players will over work their chest, and neglect their back muscles.  I like to stick to a 2:1 or 3:1 back to chest ratio when working with pitchers, to ensure we keep the deceleration phase of pitching strong and healthy.
  3. Functionality – You want as much of your work in the weight room to transfer over to the baseball field.  When you pitch, the front and backside of your body work together, therefore, when you’re working your upper body, you want your chest and back to to work together.  In the movement of the bench press, your back is locked out, and doesn’t necessarily get the work it should during the movement.  To get more functionality, switch to a push up progression.  There are many different push up variations you can progress to, such as Feet Elevated Push Ups, 1 Leg Elevated Push Ups, 1 Arm Push Ups, etc.  Also, to create more resistance, don’t be afraid to work with jump stretch bands, chains, and vests.  With that combination, you’ll help build a bulletproof upper body heading into next season.

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