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Enhance Your Baseball Training By Hitting The Bike!

 

By Jennifer Davies, Contributing Nutritionist

Baseball is a year-round sport these days. The reason for this is training, and this aspect oftentimes doesn’t even include picking up a bat or a ball. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to see a healthy hunk of the nearly 14 million Americans playing baseball or softball hitting the gym in the off-season to keep their bodies in good shape in anticipation for the next season or tournament. One of the best ways for a baseball player keep in good conditions is by turning to another sport – cycling.

Why Cycling Can Help

Cycling’s primary function in baseball training is to maintain a solid level of conditioning. The better conditioned an athlete is when baseball season starts up, the quicker they can jump into baseball’s routine. What’s more, the player will be capable of performing at an optimal level more efficiently.

This goal is similar to other forms of conditioning exercises that baseball players can use, such as running, rowing, or going on an elliptical. However, there is one key differentiator that separates cycling from other conditioning options: injury minimization. A cycle’s design and mechanics allows players to maintain conditioning while minimizing the risk of secondary injuries such as shoulder or back stress.

Cycling and Muscle Groups

Cycling protects muscle groups that players need to perform by focusing their energies elsewhere. For instance, a pitcher can hop on a bike and exercise knowing that he’s not going to inadvertently tweak his pitching arm or wrench his shoulder. However, this doesn’t mean that important muscles aren’t being utilized.

Obviously, cycling uses leg power to work. While leg muscles may not be the muscle group that grabs the attention in baseball – bats aren’t swung, and pitches aren’t thrown by legs – strong leg muscles are important for some of the nuanced movements involved with success, such as properly shifting weight in the midst of a swing to properly transfer momentum. A stronger set of legs will make these nuances more effective.

Not a Replacement

With all that being said, cycling should be looked at as just one part of a baseball conditioning regiment.  Off-season training should include exercises that do focus on movement associated with baseball, which is known for requiring short bursts of speed to track down a fly ball or to hustle down the first base line after making contact with a ball. There are several repetitive exercises that a baseball player can partake in that will keep that element of their game in good shape.

The inclusion of cycling into a workout regimen is a smart addition, because it allows the player to do more than solely focus on these "baseball skills.” In turn, this allows the player to save a little wear and tear on the muscle groups they need for baseball. This could ultimately serve them well during the course of a long season.

Ultimately, adding cycling to a baseball player’s conditioning routine allows them to have a complete off-season workout. This could allow the player to be completely ready for the beginning of the season, which is a great thing. After all, nobody wants to "play themselves into shape.”

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