Part One: 3 Baseball Strength Training Lifts to Increase Bat Speed 7 Fold!

The secret to baseball strength training is through unilateral power lifting movements. Specifically, the three we'll be talking about today are the Dumbbell Clean, Snatch, and Split Snatch. In order to increase bat speed, we have to train the hips and legs to quickly move heavier weight from a dead stop, much like the action of hitting mainly is.

These baseball strength training movements are far more advanced and require razor focused technique, so in this article we're going over:

  • The mechanics of each of the BIG 3 above lifts complete with video, AND
  • How to work through an in-season and off-season routine...

To keep your hips and legs explosive, so they can put tremendous force on the batted baseball.

Before engaging in Part 1 of this two-part series to increase your bat speed, it's very important you do a 4 week stabilization maintenance phase of training. The stabilization/endurance phase of training will help toughen up weak joints and aid in the recovery of past injuries, a tightening of the bolts if you will :)

The following vital baseball strength training guidelines for increasing bat speed with unilateral power lifts are borrowed from NSCA's Power Journal...

Single Arm Clean Using Dumbbells (There are 3 Phases)

Start position:

  1. Feet should be in a good jumping position (narrow jumping width apart),
  2. Sit the hips back in a 1/2-1/4 squat position, DO NOT bend the knees (they will naturally bend by emphasizing sitting the hips back),
  3. Shins should be perpendicular to the floor,
  4. Back should be straight and flat (with a natural dip in the lower back), and head up,
  5. The shoulders should be positioned slightly in front of the kneecaps (same as when using a barbell),
  6. The hands (dumbbells) should be on the side of the knees or shins, and
  7. This should put the athlete in a good jumping position to start the baseball strength training lift.

Execution Phase:

  1. Lift dumbbells explosively in a jumping motion by extending the hip, knee, and ankle joints,
  2. At the end of the jump be sure to shrug the shoulders as well,
  3. The dumbbells should stay close to the body and slide along the rib cage while keeping the face of the dumbbells perpendicular to the ground,
  4. Elbows should be kept high above the wrist, and
  5. This should allow the dumbbells to reach maximum height (the armpit is the desired height).

Catch Phase:

  1. As you start the downward motion into the catch position, you should begin to rotate the elbows around and under the dumbbells,
  2. Catch the dumbbells on the shoulders while lifting the elbows as high as possible (An observer should be able to see the point of your elbow standing in front of you),
  3. Also during the descent you should be sitting the hips backwards in a squatting motion to assist in catching the dumbbells under control,
  4. DO NOT allow the knees to bend forward during the catch which will cause you to catch the dumbbells with elbows down and in a toe squatting position which will put undue stress on the patella tendon (Most of the weight should be on your heels), and
  5. Once you are in a full squatting position, elbows high, good balance, and under control extend the hips and knees to stand fully erect and complete the baseball strength training lift.

Next,

Dumbbell Split Snatch (3 Phases here also, everything is the same until you get to the Catch Phase)

Catch Phase:

  1. As you start the downward motion into the catch position, you should begin to flex and rotate the elbows under the dumbbells,
  2. To catch the dumbbells, make sure elbows are fully extended and locked,
  3. During descent you should also be splitting your legs to catch the dumbbells in a lunge or split catch position,
  4. DO NOT allow the front knee to extend past the front of the toes while also trying to allow the knee of the back leg to bend only slightly.

Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch

Here's how to perform a Single Arm DB Snatch capping off our baseball strength training borrowed from an article on StaleyTraining.com (the father of Escalating Density Training, or EDT*, which is what Part 2 of this article is all about):

  1. "Start with your weak (arm) side,
  2. Drive from the heels,
  3. Snap the hips: Your hips, not your arm, is lifting the weight,
  4. Drop under the weight, and
  5. Hold it. If you've done the lift right, you will standing there for a moment with the weight directly over your shoulder joint. Count slowly to three (in other words, three long seconds). Then lower it to the ground as safely as you can.

Remember, don't fight the dumbbell for space. You will lose, and it will be painful. Plus, it just looks bad when you get a huge amount of weight up with one hand...and then drop it squarely on your foot. The laughter following your little-girl-squealing and hopping around will not make up for it."

Stay tuned for Part II of Swing Smarter's application of Staley's EDT routine to baseball strength training...this routine is a fantastic way to add explosive speed to your bat.

*Please note: the staleytraining.com link above is a yucky bitter salesy page, but don't be fooled by it's "shamelessness" because I currently use the program with my players and on myself, and it works, period. So, Swing Smarter apologizes in advance for the initial presentation ;)

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