Heavy Lifting for Pitching Velocity


In the second episode of the @Topvelocity #pitchingtips show we discuss how heavy lifting is beneficial to pitching velocity. A lot of pitchers are told not to lift heavy weights. Coaches tell them that it will tighten them up, make them slow or make them too big. The coaches that think this are obviously thinking of bodybuilding. Big, huge, overly muscly guys walking around in speedos because that is the popular form of lifting in the United States. However, at Topvelocity we use olympic lifting and heavy load training, both of which have hundreds of studies that correlate to increases in pitching velocity.

The Bigger, Stronger and Faster Pitcher

Yes, heavy load training does make you get bigger, but it is a good bigger! Just because you heavy load train it doesn’t mean you are going to balloon up like a bodybuilder. Olympic weightlifters are some of the most powerful athletes in the world, but they do not look like huge, immobile, muscle blobs. In fact, they are far from it they tend to be extremely flexible and lean. Our goal in the 3x and 2x velocity programs is to gain some of the power that the olympic weightlifters have and many studies have shown that lifting 80% of your 1 rep max enhances your mechanical power output. So, if you want to train to enhance your power you need to lift heavy in order to reap the benefits. It is not the only thing you need to do, but it is a piece of the puzzle to develop the high velocity pitcher.

Baseball is way behind in developing their players for performance. Football has been developing players for years and it shows up in the NFL combine. Baseball does not have a combine so we don’t get to see their athletic numbers like we do in football. However, we do have a study called Anthropometric and Performance Comparisons in Professional Baseball Players by Jay Hoffman and Jose Vazquez that showed us that the average vertical jump in the MLB was 28 inches. The average vertical jump for outside linebackers (average size was most similar to baseball players average size) in football was 34 inches. The reason probably has a lot to do with their training. Football players start training for power their freshmen year of high school all the way to the combine. If baseball players are lucky their coaches have them train this way in high school, but usually they start lifting in college. Even in college a lot of the coaches don’t have their players training the right way for power. Imagine if players started lifting for power in high school all the way through college. We would be producing some very impressive athletes.

Baseball players need to know how to train for performance and get out of the conventional wisdom holding them back. Start training the right way in high school and be amazed at the type of athlete you become by the time you go to college. Even if your not in high school if you start training the right way you can eventually turn yourself into a beast athlete. Conventional wisdom is holding a lot of athletes back and not allowing them to become the athlete they can be. So, if you want to start throwing harder, running faster and hitting farther then you need to be training to develop that power and heavy lifting is part of that training.

Heavy Lifting for Pitchers Reference:

  1. Hoffman, Jay R., Jose Vazquez, Napoleon Pichardo, and Gershon Tenenbaum. “Anthropometric and Performance Comparisons in Professional Baseball Players.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23.8 (2009): 2173-178. Web.
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