Baseball fitness training involves exercises that are designed to prepare one for playing baseball. Training for baseball fitness usually focuses on four areas: cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, strength and nutrition. A complete baseball fitness training program will address all four areas. Although bulky, overweight designated hitters might lumber off the bench to produce much-needed run production, they usually are not the products of well-rounded baseball fitness training programs.
Cardiovascular training is intended to improve stamina and endurance. For a baseball player, this often is achieved by distance running, using an exercise bike or doing staircase exercises. A properly fit player will have a cardiovascular regimen that involves one of these forms of exercise for a given duration each day.
Flexibility exercises also are an important part of baseball fitness training. These will include stretching exercises and drills that are designed to maintain flexibility and develop strength in areas of stress. Stretching is one of the best protections against injuries in baseball, and the best players often are the most flexible ones, because they are able to perform with quickness of motion combined with smooth, athletic body movements. It is recommended that players spend an average of 15 minutes stretching before games and 10 minutes of stretching after games.
Strength conditioning is the third important area for a complete baseball fitness training regimen, and it commonly will involve the use of weights in combination with drills and stretches. A baseball player will condition his upper body for throwing power and hitting, and will condition his lower body to maintain healthy hamstrings and legs. In addition to weight training, upper-body conditioning usually involves arm swings and cross-arm stretching, often using a piece of rubber surgical tubing that is held in one hand and pulled by the other hand. Lower-body strength conditioning will involve hamstring stretches, lunges, squats and various leg exercises using weights. Although modern baseball players have bulkier muscles than ever, it has not been determined conclusively that strength conditioning makes a better ballplayer, because skill, precision and mental acumen are significant parts of the game.
Most people enjoy a ballpark hot dog, but it is not among the recommended food items for the nutrition component of baseball fitness training. Instead, a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended. Additionally, hydration is a central part of proper nutrition for the baseball player, and one is advised to stay hydrated at all times, not just after becoming thirsty. Therefore, a baseball player should drink lots of water and non-caffeinated fluids the day before and the day of a game as well as during periods of exercise.