Throwing the Heat – Part 1

Decelerating For Harder and Faster Throws

One of the most frequently asked questions we get at S.S.T. from Baseball players is, “What exercises will make me throw ‘The Heat?’”. Often the short answer to this is “Do the opposite of whatever you are doing right now.” We’ll explain this answer later in this article, but first, to completely and properly answer this question we start with gathering some info from the athlete:

  • What are exercises are you doing to improve throwing now?
  • How many sets are you doing?
  • How many reps?
  • What is your tempo? (How fast you are moving the weight)
  • How long have you been doing this program for?

The most common answers we get at S.S.T. are a couple sets of bench press, a few sets of dumbbell chest press, some triceps stuff, and the odd med ball throws. The athletes complain that they have reached a plateau and can’t for the life of them throw any faster, or worse are starting to throw slower and have shoulder pain. This scenario is all too common amongst baseball players and often detrimental to any shoulder and guaranteed to lead to an injury. (Note: injured players don’t get to play.)

OK, so what should baseball players be doing to throw harder? The first thing we have our athletes do at S.S.T. is to go through an athletic assessment. One of the things we have them do is different strength tests to find out how strong the athlete is relative to their opposite lifts. For example, we may get a 160 pound athlete who might be able to close grip bench press 200lbs but then can’t do two medium grip chin ups properly. This is a relative strength imbalance which will limit their throwing velocity.

Another strength assessment we do is called the Paretials Test which is a test of the upper back and posterior part of the shoulder. Most baseball players and other throwing athletes fail this test miserably using just their bodyweight, let alone any sort of external resistance (For more information on S.S.T. assessments click here). This is because they have worked the muscles they use for throwing to a point where they are short and tight leaving the opposing muscle long and weak. Whenever this imbalance happens, your body automatically decreases the neural signal to your short tight throwing muscles as a defence mechanism to try and prevent you from throwing your arm out of its socket (If you keep it up, your shoulder can pop out). (For more on preventing shoulder injuries click here)

Solution #1: Stop training the muscles on the front of your body.

Most of our baseball players and throwing athletes at S.S.T. who have done this have had a significant increase in performance. Pitchers are throwing faster – some more than 10mph in 4 months – and our fielders and other athletes are throwing further, without pain!

Here is a sample beginner program to train the decelerators of a throw. To be done 2x/week on both arms.

  • A1 Paretials sets: 3-4 Reps: 4-6 Tempo: 2018
  • A2 External Rotators on knee sets 3-4 Reps: 10-12 Tempo: 2020

  • B1 Scapular Retractions High Pulley Sets: 3-4 Reps: 4-6 Tempo: 3013
  • B2 Pulley External Rotations Sets: 3-4 Reps: 10-12 Tempo: 2020

This routine is just a sample and should only be used for about 6 workouts because a routine is only as good as the time it takes for your body to adapt. (For information on why click here) Once your body adapts, you need to progress. This routine addresses only two shoulder imbalances and is not a cure for all imbalances of the shoulder muscles. There are several other assessments that we do at S.S.T. to determine shoulder health and all need to be addressed to really be able to “Throw the Heat”.