Five Tool Baseball Performance Training (FTBPT) is dedicated to sharing its knowledge, ideas and opinions on baseball performance training based upon field tested experiences as player, coach and baseball strength & conditioning coach. Proper exercise technique ( to ensure effective & efficient training programs) and baseball related movement patterns are implemented to maximize on-field performance. Emphasis is placed on movement based training which integrates multiple muscle groups. This approach has a greater transfer to on-field performance and can minimize the incidence and risk of injury. 
 If a game is being played you can be sure Im watching it from home or from the stands. Many of my own workouts involve designing/creating out-of-the-box exercises & programs to enhance performance and movement unique to baseball

Monday, June 19, 2017

DB Floor Press

One of my favorite, “traditional” pushing exercises is the DB CHEST PRESS from the floor –  a shoulder friendly with big strength gains exercise. I prefer pressing from the floor for a couple of simple reasons:

1) When performing DB Bench Press there’s the potential for uncontrolled and perhaps excessive shoulder joint extension. In other words the upper arms tend to drop too far below parallel thus placing unwanted stress on the anterior aspect of the shoulder joint. Whereas, during the DB Floor Press the floor provides a natural breaking mechanism, not allowing upper arms to break parallel.  Although this reduces range of motion, your shoulders will be positioned in a healthier, safer zone.

2) As mentioned above the floor is a natural breaking mechanism that by design minimizes ROM, which eliminates the movement from entering the “sticking point” (below parallel). During the DB bench press the “below-parallel sticking point” is where the resistance can become greater than what the muscular strength can overcome. That being said, logic would then have us believe that by eliminating the “sticking point” during the DB Floor Press then one should be able to press more weight while increasing strength gains. However, even though the limited ROM keeps shoulders in a protected position it also creates less of a “stretch” (loading of muscular force) during the eccentric phase of the repetition thus minimizing the max potential of strength that can be applied against the resistance (concentric phase). All in all, make no mistake about it, while the reduced ROM during DB floor bench press will offer some protection to the shoulders it requires greater muscular strength thus creating big strength gains.

And finally as a SIDE NOTE:

My preference is to perform the DB FLOOR PRESS with the knees slightly bent or in some cases legs flat on the floor. Find a lower body position comfortable for you but one that enables good contact between the lower back and floor. In addition, decelerate the weight until your upper arms make smooth, controlled contact with the ground, pause for a 3-sec count and then press – and – DO NOT bounce the movement off the floor as this will cause you to easily break inertia relying less on muscular strength and more on momentum.

So when you progress in to your strength phase give this great alternative a try, and as always out train the game.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Biceps for Baseball?

Biceps for baseball? Sure why not; as long as there's an additional, integrated purpose that goes beyond just isolating the biceps.  As an example, in addition to your biceps you can enhance your grip while performing bicep curls with fat bars, or a pair of Grip Force grips.


Taking one step further Recline/Inverted Bicep Curls provides a series of integrated benefits. For starters the biceps, obviously, play a big role in pulling your body up. This should satisfy the "hey, Im a guy. I need to curl" excuse. Secondly, to properly perform this exercise the athlete must maintain constant hip extension thru-out the repetition engaging the posterior chain. 

This constant hip extension, which can also be referred to as anti-hip flexion, makes the Recline Bicep Curls a great core stiffening drill. Furthermore, as hip extension is maintained, this exercise can enhance hip flexor mobility (which as we know if it’s tight -lacks mobility-  can potentially have a negative impact on hamstrings).

So next time you reach for a pair of dumbbells try some recline bicep curls instead.

Out Train the Game!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Squatting; Not Always

To start, consider this:
Single leg (1L) training transfers to two leg (2L) activities, but 2L training doesn’t necessarily have the same transfer to 1L activities.

It seems the traditional 2-leg back squat is ALWAYS the go-to lower body exercise for athletic performance. Additionally, the back squat HAS to be deep; ‘Ass To Grass’  (ATG) as they say.  I absolutely, have no problem with the traditional back squat. I simply don’t believe that they have to be the foundation of a baseball player’s on-field performance, nor are they indicative to on-field performance. What if some of my baseball players can't traditional deep squat for whatever reason?   Does this mean they have no chance of excelling on the field or have no chance at getting to the next level of competition? I’ve been extremely fortunate (and honored) to have trained MLB players of all positions.  Many of them have reached the highest level of success on the field, with practically no "ATG"  traditional squatting in their training.  I can say the same applies to our MiLB, collegiate and high school players. Squats (deep and/or parallel) are not the only answer. The players shouldn't feel as if they've failed because for some reason they can't perform traditional back squats below parallel. There are other lower body training alternatives that will absolutely smoke your legs while achieving a strong, athletic, and functionally performing lower half.  Our approach to program design is simple; design a lower body training program that is centered on the lower body movement needs of the player and less around any one exercise (e.g. traditional parallel stance squat). Successful training results aren’t about any one exercise but about sensible progression and the synergistic impact of the entire program that enhances on-field performance.

Baseball is about running, throwing and hitting.   It’s a rotational sport dominated by powerful, explosive movements.  All of these movements require forces to be transferred thru diagonal patterns; from one shoulder to opposite leg/hip.  The transfer of these forces is maximized by a ‘superstiff” core, single-leg stability, as well as upper body stability.

When designing baseball performance training programs our lower body training has to be designed with “on-field” performance in mind, not “in-gym” performance in mind.  On-field performance must be supported by the multitude of exercises that go way beyond the “bar-across-the-back” dogma. Core stiffness and single-leg hip stability are two of many characteristics necessary for generating and transferring power, especially the power needed in baseball.

When choosing exercises for our lower body program the selection criteria is based on but not limited to: (1) enhance hip mobility, (2) enhance single leg hip stability (7 Frame, as termed by JC Santana), (3) enhance core stiffness, and (4) improve strength.


The following represents some, not all, of our lower body exercises to enhance on-field performance; they are not only single leg in nature but also a few alternatives to the traditional back squat.

1) Front Squat - dumbbells or kettle bells are great options to the standard straight bar front squat

2) Hex Bar Deadlift

3) Romanian Deadlift (RDL) although a very popular exercise performed traditionally with straight bar, DB's makes a nice alternative

4) Split Squats

5) Single Leg Squats

6) Single Leg RDL

7) Lateral Lunge

8) Single Leg StabilityBall "Triple Threat"

9) Forward & Reverse Sled work

In closing, always ask this question when designing your baseball strength and conditioning program, “if single leg (1L) training supports two leg (2L) activities, but 2L training doesn’t optimally support 1L activities, what strength exercises would you emphasis with your baseball players?

Train Hard! Train Smart!