BY STEVE KRAH
Greg Vogt is all for baseball players using traditional lifts like bench presses and squats to get strong.
But the founder of PRP (Passion Resilience Process) Baseball stresses that ballplayers must remember to train for the movements that they make as throwing/overhead athletes.
“We don’t play baseball in the frontal plane,” says Vogt, who recently hosted the first PRP Bridge The Gap Clinic in Noblesville. “We rotate. We turn. We store energy and release it through rotation.
“(We must) train those movements and learn to resist rotation. Anything you press straight up or straight forward can develop strength but may not directly affect our performance. It doesn’t mean that it’s not important.
“We do a lot of core and stability work to make sure we’re stable in our trunk.”
Vogt, who trains players from youth to professional, says baseball players must learn how to properly hinge with their hips and glute muscles, control breathing, stabilize and extend during building strength.
“Our advanced athletes are typically much more controlled and stable in their movement sequences from their weight room and throwing development,” says Vogt. “Hinging and squatting are a lot different even though the squat should start with a hinge.”
In explaining the hinge, Vogt says to consider standing straight up right in front of a wall and pushing one’s back side into the wall.
“I want to get my chin in front of my belly button and my butt behind my heels,” says Vogt. “Everything we do in baseball is out of the hinge. Being strong in a hinge allows you to rotate your hips more explosively.
“When I’m standing straight up, I can’t turn my hips away from my shoulders very quickly. When I’m in a hinge, I can.”
This movement happens when a pitcher is loading with his leg lift or a hitter when he takes the bat back and begins his load.
“We’re not falling or drifting forward,” says Vogt. “We’re not falling back. If you start to leak your shoulders forward toward your target, your arm’s going to be late. We try to get guys to lead their movement with their back hip and rotate hips before trunk to create that whip of the arm or barrel.”
Athletes need to learn how to control their breath — during training just as they do in a game.
While lifting, they breath in on the way down and breath out on the way up.
“Most guys are holding breath and hoping they don’t fall or don’t drop the weight,” says Vogt, who was a pitcher at Carmel (Ind.) High School and Anderson (Ind.) University and has coached at the high school and travel baseball levels. “If we’re doing a dumbbell goblet squat, take a big inhale on the way down and exhale that breath on the way up.”
“Tempo is also important. A lot to guys move way too quickly in the eccentric phase. I doubt
they’re getting full range of motion, controlling the movement, and they’re sacrificing
PRP Baseball clients do many variations of the Palloff Press, which requires the athlete to hold resistance from rotating. This helps to build stabilization.
“We want to build our anti-rotation stability so we can learn to rotate at the last absolute second,” says Vogt. “(The best players) can resist rotation better than others to create more whip.”
Vogt says that more ground force leads to more stability.
The trap bar deadlift is one exercise that helps transfer the ground force up the kinetic chain by strengthening the lower half and the core.
“We’ll do a lot of single-leg strengthening for ground force because as a pitcher we’re in a split stance,” says Vogt. “We reverse lunge and lateral lunge frequently. Back-squatting and front-squatting are very popular for ground force as well.”
Vogt has found that more ground force can lead to more velocity for throwers.
“The trap bar deadlift is a little more quad-dominant,” says Vogt. “The straight bar deadlift, because the bar is in front of you, requires a little more lower back, hips and glutes. They’re both great in what they train. You’re going to get something from both of them.
“It’s harder for athletes that we don’t get to see very consistently or very often (at PRP) to teach them really good technique and also get heavier in weight with a trap bar. The trap bar is a little easier to teach. We start there and will progress to the straight bar with some of our advanced guys who can handle it.”
Vogt is a believer in progression while training were each level gets harder and more advanced.
“We have 13-year-olds that will go from push-up to banded push-up to bench press,” says Vogt. “We don’t want to put them under the barbell and say ‘let’s figure it out.’ We start with more
foundational movements that they’re used to doing and progress in difficulty as they get better.”
Another concept that Vogt addresses is volume vs. strength.
“This time of year (October and November) we should be working toward the volume (more reps, more sets),” says Vogt. “We’re working on hypertrophy (size and muscle mass).”
Adding more volume can add more size if you’re training it right, including the proper diet.
In December, the phase changes from volume to attacking strength levels (lower the reps and increasing the weight).
About late January or early February comes the power phase (moving the weight fast) to develop explosiveness for arm speed, bat speed, and more.
“Usually the off-season should have a volume phase, a strength phase, and a power phase,” says Vogt, who does his training out of Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville.
Vogt says rotational sport athletes must learn how to do specific things to perform in their sport.
“We will see well over 100 athletes this off-season and we often see that most do not stabilize the trunk or overhead extension well,” says Vogt. “This can lead to more arm injuries, leaks in the kinetic chain, and poor mechanics.
“Mechanics are often a bi-product of your capabilities in the weight room with ground force, stabilization, and core control.”
Palloff Press Variations.
Loop Band Hip Circuits
Romanian Deadlift (RDL).
Alternating DB Press.
Side Plank Variations.
How you program these workouts within the weekly schedule is key.
Vogt advises that your exercise bank preach more baseball-specific movements around general strength training to ensure that movement in the proper positions transfers to on-field performance. He listed some exercises to add in below.
More Key Exercises:
TRX Overhead Raise to Reverse Fly.
TRX SA Rollouts.
1/2 Kneeling Windmills.
Turkish Get Up.
2DB Incline Row/Trap Bar Row.
Split Stance Uphill Single Arm Rows.
Landmine Row to Press.
TRX Oblique Crunches.
Stability Ball Planks.
Loop Band I’s.
Loop Band Fire Hydrants.
Greg Vogt is the founder of PRP (Passion Resilience Process) Baseball and trains athletes from youth to professional at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind. (PRP Baseball Photo)