Baseball core exercises are essential for any player looking to increase pitching velocity, hitting power, or explosive running speed. There are literally hundreds of different core exercises that baseball players can use, but some have to proven to be more effective than others.
Almost all your baseball core training exercises need to be structured around building rotational power and stability.
Rotational power stems from the transverse abdominis muscles (muscles surrounding the front portion of the abs), and most of the exercises should focus on increases the strength and explosiveness of these muscle.
There is nothing inherently wrong with training the rectus abdominis muscles (front of abs or “six pack”), but just make sure you’re focusing more of the transverse abdominis muscles, which are utilized much more in baseball.
Also, keep in mind, the “core” is comprised of more than the just the abs muscles. The core is also comprised of the lower back, upper back, groin, and hips. With that being said, any baseball core routine should be designed to strengthen these muscles.
In this post I’m going to list several excellent baseball core exercises that will increase rotational power and stability in your midsection.
Top 30 Baseball Core Exercises
Some of these exercises will directly and indirectly target the core, but each method is necessary for achieving overall core strength.
Yes, this popular leg strength-building workout is actually a great baseball core exercise. Squats will increase strength within the entire core, especially in the lower back, hips, and abs.
Deadlifts are an absolute core killer. By utilizing the correct form, deadlifts will increase strength primarily in the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
3. Front Planks
Front planks are essential for building core stability and overall strength. This is a very simple exercise that can be modified many different ways to increase the difficulty.
To make the front plank more difficult you can:
- Have someone rest a 10-25 pound plate on your back. Difficulty: medium-hard
- Stabilize yourself on a bosu ball. Difficulty: medium-hard
- Balance your feet on a bosu ball. Difficulty: hard
- Stabilize the upper body on a bosu, and the feet on an exercise ball. Difficulty: hard
- Stabilize the upper body on a bosu, and the feet on an exercise ball with a weight on your back. Difficulty: very hard
- Stabilize your entire body on two bosu balls or two exercise balls. Difficulty: extremely hard
4. Side Planks
Side planks are essential for increasing strength in the transverse abdominis muscles, and are a necessary component to any baseball core routine.
5. Side Planks w/ Hip Drop
This is a modified version of the side plank. You will get into side plank position, then drop your hip to the ground, and explode back up flexing the transverse abdominis.
6. Side Planks w/ Hip Drop and Range of Motion
You will perform the hip drop motion, but on your way back up, you will extend the opposite arm into the air. This baseball core exercise will increase your stability, and also train the scaps at the same time. Craig from Turbulence Training focuses on these types of functional, compound core exercises. His core training program is one of my personal favorites, and you have to check it out if you’re looking to train your core from pretty much anywhere.
7. Plank Step-Ups
Start in the plank position. You will then push with one hand and then other, which will put into a push-up position. Proceed back to the plank position by putting one elbow, followed by the other, back on the ground. Repeat this plank to push-up transition in a smooth fluid motion. This is one of the best baseball core exercises that you will do.
8. Russian Twists
Russian twists are the ultimate baseball core exercise for increasing strength in the transverse abdominis muscles. Start by sitting on the ground with your feet and legs about 2-5 inches off the ground. Your upper body should be slightly leaned back. The further you flatten your body, the higher degree of difficulty.
If you’re a beginner, you can use no weight. For more advanced trainees, you can utilize a medicine or some type of weight. You will simply twist one way, completely rotating and touching the ground next to your hip. Every movement should be slow and controlled so that you properly engage the core. Try to keep your legs still and avoid swinging them.
9. Medicine Ball Rotational Throws
Grab a medicine ball and stand with your side facing the wall. You will then explosively rotate towards the wall and releasing the medicine ball. Really work on engaging the core muscles as you rotate.
10. Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from a pull-up bar, and bring your leg directly up towards the hop of the bar. Make sure you’re not arching your back. As you bring your legs up, you should also be curling your pelvis up towards your head.
11. Hanging Knee Raises
Similar to the leg raises except you bring your knees towards the top of the bar, almost near your head. Be sure to curl the pelvis upward. In the Truth About Six Pack Abs, Mike Geary focuses on exercises like leg and knee raises because these exercises target the entire ab region. I highly recommend you check out his program because it will help you building an insanely strong core.
12. Lying Leg Thrusts
While laying on your back with your legs up the air, simple lower your legs to about a 45 degree angle, then lift the legs and press the hips upwards off the ground. Repeat. This can also be performed on a decline bench, which increases the difficulty.
13. Renegade Rows
One of my personal favorite baseball core exercises. Grab two dumbbells and get into push-up position. Spread your leg apart into a V position. Bring one dumbbell up towards your chest while keep your core stabilized and without arching your back. Smooth and controlled is the key to renegade rows.
Start by laying on your back with your arms extended over your head and your leg flat on the ground. Simply bring your arms and legs together in simultaneous motion. Your hands should cross towards the outer part of your legs. To increase the difficulty, you can hold a medicine between your feet or in your hand.
Excellent baseball core exercise designed to increase strength in the lower back. Lay on your stomach with your arms and leg extended. Simply lift your arms and legs off the ground into a “superman”-like position. Hold for 1-2 seconds and release back to starting position.
16. Ab Roller
Ab rollers are an absolute lower abs killer. Just roll nice and slow, feel the stretch, and return to the starting position. Definitely a more advanced baseball core exercise.
17. Front Squats
Front squats require an incredible amount of core strength, and according to Eric Cressey, are safer for baseball players than back squats. When utilized correctly and with good form, front squats can build excellent overall core strength.
18. Medicine Ball Explosions
Start with a medicine ball at your chest, squat down, and then explode up launching the ball over your head.
Everyone knows what burpees are! Great exercise for building core strength.
20. Bicycle Crunches
Start with one leg out, both hand on your head, and crunch your opposite knee to your opposite elbow. Slow and controlled is the best way to engage the abs. Don’t mimic the guys at the gym who are performing this exercise like it’s a race.
21. Mountain Climbers
Start with your hands on the ground and one knee at your chest. Individually bring each knee to your chest, back and forth. Try to engage the core.
This one should obvious, but many people associate push-ups as chest workout. It is primarily a chest builder, but is also an excellent baseball core exercise that will train the lower back, scaps, and rectus abdominis.
23. Granny Tosses
Grab a medicine ball. You will hold the medicine at your waist, squat down letting the ball go between your legs, and forcefully explode up launching the ball over your head. I like to add an explosive jump upward as I reach the peak of the squat.
24. Med Ball Slams
Once again, grab a med ball. You will simply lift the ball over your head, and slam down to the ground by using your core as the power generator.
25. Medicine Ball Push-Ups
This is a baseball core exercise that is designed for advanced athletes. You will put both of your hands on med balls with your feet on a med, and try to perform push-ups. This exercise requires an incredible amount of core strength and stability.
26. Bosu Ball Push-Ups
Put your feet up on a bench, and perform push-ups on a bosu ball. This exercise will require great core stability and balance.
27. Simulated Backhand w/ Med Ball
You will need either two people or a wall for this baseball-specific core exercise. Start with your leg spread past shoulder width. If you have two people, the other person will roll the med ball to one side, and you will reach with your opposite hand, stopping the med ball and rolling it back like your backhanding a groundball.
Repeat on the opposite side. The motion should be pretty quick back and forth. This will help building greater rotational strength, along with some baseball-specific movement.
28. Crunches w/ Med Ball
Grab a med ball and lay on your back with your legs at 90 degrees. Place the med ball on top of your legs. With your arm extended over your head, you will crunch up and touch the sides of the med ball like you’re about to pick it up, hold for one to two seconds, and go back to the starting position. The med ball will stay balanced on your legs for the entire exercise.
29. Straight Leg Deadlift
This exercise is primarily for the hamstrings, but will significantly strength the lower back muscles. I highly recommend this exercise.
30. Single-leg Deadlift
I would actually contend that the single-leg deadlift is easily one of the best baseball core exercises. It’s actually pretty specific to pitching as well because it’s almost like your imitating the follow-through. Grab a dumbbell, stand on one-leg, lower the dumbbell towards your foot while the other leg extends behind you, keep your back straight, and your core tight throughout the entire motion.
If you haven’t performed this exercise before, you will see that it requires an incredible amount of balance and core stability.
Core power is critical to your pitching velocity and if you don’t currently have a set routine, then you are falling behind the competition. I contribute a lot my crazy velocity gains from my solid core training routine, but I didn’t develop it on my own.
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One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It’s not. To get to the next level, preparation is everything — but you need a plan. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
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