I see a lot of high school players that fall into a habit of abandoning workouts while they are in-season. While I can understand special cases where this may be the most appropriate course of action, usually the only reason players don’t train in-season is because they simply have no idea what to do.
Below I will outline my basic thinking when constructing an in-season workout. Next, I will give you some simple guidelines regarding when and how often you should be training. Finally, I will provide you with two different session variations that you can implement immediately.
How I program in-season training
My goals for an in-season workout of a typical high school baseball player are as follows:
- stay healthy throughout the season
- maintain off-season progress
- reinforce high rate of force development from the central nervous system
- minimize eccentric stress and delayed onset muscle soreness
- maintain joint-specific mobility and stability
- reduce fatigue and optimize the feeling of “freshness”
Another important aspect that I always take into consideration is the risk/reward nature of various movements. You will see this in my justifications for certain exercises in the two training sessions below.
When to train
You should try to get at least one session in per week, but two is ideal. The actual specific schedule is dependent on your playing schedule and practice demands. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you plan your training around season demands.
- directly after a game
- the day after a game
- if you can successfully recover from the session
Do not train:
- directly before a game*
- the day before a game
- on back to back days
- if doing so would impede productive practice
- if doing so would put you in an overly fatigued state
For example, if you play games on Tuesday and Friday, your weekly schedule could look something like this:
Sunday: off … Monday: practice … Tuesday: game … Wednesday: practice and train … Thursday: practice … Friday: game and train … Saturday: practice
* Many higher level athletes utilize game-day training every so often for the extended post activation potentiation effect (the nervous system will be more readily “on” for a few hours, and up to a full day, after a proper PAP training session). For a high school athlete, I do not see the benefit in this. A less developed nervous system, like that of a high school athlete, won’t be primed enough for any reward that can outweigh the risk of load, intensity, or fatigue mismanagement of a game-day training session.
The training sessions
There are limitless options for warming up and preparing to train. You can use the dynamic warm-up that your team goes through pregame, this dynamic warm-up that Alex Simone (Simone Baseball Performance), Tom Murphy (Rockies), and I wrote last year, or something like Joe D’s Limber 11. The purpose of any warm-up is to prepare you to safely complete the movements that will follow in the training session, increase your core body temperature, and practice any important movement patterns (squatting, hinging, lunging, etc).
A1. high handle trap bar deadlift, work up to 2 sets of 4 reps at 80%, then 2 sets of 4 reps at 70%. All reps are to be done for speed. Drop the weight at the top and reset each rep.
A2. overhead med ball slam, 4 sets of 6 reps (use a med ball weighing 8 pounds or less).
A3. RKC plank, 4 sets of 10 seconds (max tension).
B1. yoga push-up, 3 sets of 8 reps.
B2. side-lying open-ups, 3 sets of 10 reps each side.
C1. hyper alternating dumbbell row, 4 sets of 12 total reps.
C2. wide stance band Pallof press, 4 sets of 10 reps each side.
Why are we dropping the weight at the top of the deadlift?
In order to avoid muscle soreness in-season, I like athletes to modify or eliminate the eccentric portion of certain high intensity exercises. The trap bar deadlift as programmed is about concentric rate of force development and neural drive, not muscular damage or eccentric force absorption.
A1. barbell bottoms-up front half-squat, 2 sets of 2 at 90%, then 2 sets of 3 at 80%.
A2. med ball broad jump chest pass, 4 sets of 4 (use a med ball weighing 10 pounds or less).
A3. long lever straight-arm plank, 4 sets of 10 seconds.
B1. dumbbell neutral gip floor press, 3 sets of 8 reps.
B2. quadruped reach through and open-up, 3 sets of 10 reps each side.
C1. dumbbell chest supported row, 4 sets of 12 reps.
C2. lateral push-up position hand walk, 4 sets of 10 yards each way.
Why a half-squat instead of a full front squat?
Working at 90% of your max in-season with a full range front squat provides too much risk for not enough reward. By keeping the range of motion half of normal (and eliminating the most stressful bottom portion), the nervous system can be stimulated with heavy weights while safely taxing the soft tissue structures.
And there you have it: two in-season training sessions that you can implement safely and effectively. As always, make sure you are competent in these movements before attempting them. If you have never been on an off-season training program, do not attempt these in-season workouts. Instead, play out your season as normal, and then seriously commit to an off-season program the following fall.