Should pitchers bench press or not??
ISSA Certified Strength Coach
Owner Elite Athletic Performance LLC
18 years of experience training athletes
Your Student Athlete; Should Do, Must Do, and Don’t
If you know me at all, you know one of my seemingly thousands of pet peeves is there is no “Yes or No” answer. The answer is always “It depends”. At least if you know what you’re talking about.
Absolutely no two situations are exactly alike. I can totally understand why Cressey Sports Performance doesn’t use the BBP for their pitching population of athletes. Do I think they could? Perhaps. It really doesn’t matter although I personally think we are making a mountain out of ant hill.
MOSTLY because we all want the best for our athletes, PARTIALLY because it gives something to point to while claiming to be a baseball specific training facility. You and I both know that plays a role in it. “Baseball people” have been conditioned to feel like a training program for a baseball athlete is supposed to look light years different from that of any other athlete. And yes, if you’re writing the program for Max Scherzer then it very well might.
Being opposed to including Bench Press in your pitchers programming also provides solid rant material for social media.
A private training facility without a good social media presence has practically zero chance of survival. If you don’t have a person on staff or a marketing company to handle this, it can be completely exhausting to come up with material so I trust me, I get it.
So....do I allow my pitchers to bench press??
Yes....mostly. But it depends.
Hey I’m an only child and I’ve always had natural “rebel” tendencies so to each their own right?
Regardless, the bottom line for our facility at the moment is it’s simply not feasible for us and the athletes we get to not utilize BBP.
So yes...I am one of those rouge scoundrels that uses Barbell Bench Press with our baseball players as well as pitchers year around. For the most part.
My reasoning for doing so is multifaceted.
A few disclaimers I want to mention.
- Our high level college and pro guys get 100% customized programming so the chances of them performing a BBP is much less likely. - If we are talking about a bench press in which an athlete flares the elbows out so that the humerus is practically running parallel to the barbell, all bets are off, it’s pretty much impossible to maintain glenohumeral congruency like that. We look for approximately 30 degrees of “daylight” between the elbow and the rib cage. This is a healthy position for the shoulder in extension. I don’t care what any guru says about Bench Press we can NOT ignore building strength in any position God intended our bodies to have the ability to perform if we are going to help athletes stay healthy.
A healthy athlete is strong in every single position in which their body can contort. Bench Press is not an MMA submission hold.
I understand the argument regarding the shoulder blades being “locked down” while performing the movement. If you aren’t ”in the biz”, healthy scapular function is vital to maintaining a healthy throwing arm. Basically it has to rotate upwards to allow the humerus (The bone your bicep is on) to freely move passed the collarbone when performing overhead tasks. If you allow the athlete to develop movement patterns with their arms that involve moving without the help of the shoulder blade it could get ugly. Honestly, this is the only argument that carries water with me. I‘ll explain why we continue to use BBP in the following points. Plus, I don’t understand why we can’t “un-stuck” them with some scap rows and such, as an accessory exercise between or after the BBP work set. Before I even begin with technical reasons we use it, hello, we get like 3 months of the year that aren’t compromised by games and practice that these guys can follow a full program.
In the other 9 months we get them what twice per week maybe? One of those days will be a lower body lift. How much damage could they possibly do in that little bit of time? I fundamentally disagree with avoiding stress because simply because I think it might be bad for a shoulder. That is a small portion of what has gotten us into this “Injury bug” dilemma in baseball in the first place.
Economic- I refuse to contraindicate an exercise for an entire population of athletes. I believe you contraindicate the athlete for a particular exercise when needed. Not say “Bench press is bad for everyone! No one bench pressed here!”
Most baseball players are drastically weaker than they need to be in order to simply maintain health, much less perform at a high level. Long story short, and honestly, this pretty much sums up my entire thought process regarding this topic, this weakness is way more dangerous for their careers than the problems we think Bench Press MIGHT be causing.
Furthermore, if an athletes shoulder gets cranky after bench pressing, we adjust the exercise. It’s really simple. No need in throwing the baby out with the bath water ya know.
Anyways, The risk is so much lower than the reward in our case.
Yes, if you are a strength coach reading this, I know about anterior glide and all that stuff.
Keep in mind, if you’ve been in this industry as long as I have you’ll remember retroversion scared the living piss out of us until we realized...oh wait...they can’t throw hard without that “defect”.
If you’re not Retroversion (of the humerus) is, in Arkansas terms, literally a warping effect of the humerus caused by the arm being put in a position of maximum external rotation (it’s what most call “layback”) while throwing. Over the years, our bone just molds itself to better suit the activity.
ARENT OUR BODY’S FREAKING INCREDIBLE!!?
Regardless of your opinion on this topic, please don’t tell the baseball gods on me. Ive already got my name on the chalk board with two check marks next to it for saying bunting is for senior citizens and telling a kid that if scouts gave a crap about finding the next Greg Maddox they’d leave the radar gun in their car.
Click the link below to sign up for our Newsletter!
Pick up a copy of my book today! Click the link below for Kindle Version and Paperback available on Amazon!
Your Student Athlete; Must Do, Should Do, and Don’t
The “Owner’s Manual” for parents to maximize their kid’s time, help them perform better, and avoid injury